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tv   Book Discussion on The March on Washington  CSPAN  February 18, 2016 9:53pm-10:43pm EST

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written this odd letter that i go on about in the book to his great friend john lawrence who is a fellow aid in which he described in detail their characteristics of the woman. it's a particularly complicated letter first because it's so literal that it seems childish. it's almost like this inch bust in that inch hips but he also had written another letter to warrants that had all the earmarks of a heavy schoolboy crush, i in which he referred to his love for lawrence that went beyond the love that he had for anybody else and it's actually letter that groups have captured for the internet to show that hamilton was.
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it's possible. we are all a little. well, not all of us. but anyway that's all to say that his interest in the lie was complex but does not deny the fact that he lies i would say is the moral center of his universe and one of the moral centers of the universes in which he acted. she was the kindest most loving most forgiving most understanding woman that one could ever know and what she put up with from her man is extraordinary. it was the most embarrassing revelations about this love affair that he had with a trance and she forgave him for that. she didn't even mention it to him as far as we know that allowed him to come back into the bosom of the families which he craved. when he died in this duel the killed her to witness and
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experience having seen her oldest son be killed in exactly this manner before that must have been so galling and yet she lives out the rest of her days bent on the redeeming and affirming his memory and no man stood higher in the annals of history than alexander hamilton in her mind. it's a glorious thing. >> john thank you for a wonderful talk. it's been so enjoying. my question is about the idea of duels. to what extent were duels commonplace and was this dual between two high positions government officials unusual in 1804? >> no comment was not unusual. i don't know exactly what the count was but i venture to say
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that in the 30-year period surrounding 1804 that there were probably 100 duels in the greater new york area. all of them by the way in new jersey because then as now you can do things in new jersey that you can't do in manhattan even though they are equally illegal. and so they would go across weehawken and do their battle bear. they would assume that everything would be fine but think this case it wasn't. it was this code that doesn't exist today because honor doesn't exist and therefore the need to defend it doesn't exist. for that reason is just unimaginable to us but at that time he was so ritualized in so automatic and i think frankly there were duels because there was an advocate of dueling, there was a process for dueling that nobody would have thought. let's have a duel to settle
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this. we will shoot each other at 10 paces. no, they knew that this was done and therefore was done and i think this happens at times. if this sort of a cold situation, a culture buys into a notion and at any other time with any other group of people would seem utterly bizarre and get to them seemed as inevitable as the sunrise. [applause] >> thank you very much. i thank all of you. there are copies of this book if you would like to purchase one in the front hall and he will be glad to sign them for you. again we welcome you to come up and take a look at the letters we have up here. again if you want to become a member of there are pressures in the front. thank you.
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>> host: this is booktv on c-span2 and we are on the campus of the university of wisconsin in madison. we are talking to some professors who also are authors. joining us first is professor will jones his book "the march on washington" came out just recently. professor jones march -- august 28, 1963, how long was that in the planning? >> guest: well was actually in the planning for over 20 years, 1941. the first of march on washington was planned during the second world war and was called off at the last minute so the organizers of the 1963 march had it in mind during that entire period that they would need to revise this idea and they talked about it pretty constantly for that period and then starting in 1962 they thought for a number of reasons they would actually put it on so was a the march that was very long in the planning and well thought out
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and finally carried forward. >> host: why was at first march canceled and what was the focus of that first march? >> guest: it's important for understanding the marches that actually happen to know what that first march was about and why was called off. the first march was just before the united states entered the second world war so the world was happening in europe and asia. this was before pearl harbor. the u.s. was officially neutral but the u.s. for supporting the allies are ready to surprise so this is a period that president franklin delano roosevelt called for the united states to be the arsenal list of democracy to support democracy by building tanks and airplanes to support europe and asia. this is a period on which this bull position affected the big depression for most americans. people have jobs. wages are going up but for
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african-americans who are shut out of those jobs in the defense industries this was a terrific contradiction. here we are fighting for democracy in europe and asia and african-americans are shut out of these jobs at home. this was the central point to a whole array of injustices ranging from not be able to get a job to being shut out of the armed forces. when they could get into the armed forces put into menial jobs in segregated in the ranks and of course in much of the country deprived of the right to vote to run for office segregated in public spaces in schools. a. philip randolph who at the time was perhaps the most widely known african-american leader. he was a union leader and a civil rights leader and he called for this march in 1941 to protest the contradiction in the
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democracy so they were demanding equal access into the armed forces. they were demanding equal access to defense jobs and the right to vote, a whole are afraid of demands. it was called, the reason was called off is at the last minute initially president roosevelt refused to meet with a. philip randolph. he refused to meet any of his demands. he said we cannot integrate the armed forces at a time we are under national merchant sea. we cannot force private companies to hire people. we can't tell them about their employment decisions. and so he said we can't meet your demands but at the last minute when it became clear that tens of thousands, perhaps 100,000 african-americans were going to march on the nation's capital in the middle of this
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mobilization for the second world war suddenly he backed down. what was really the most important, it wasn't the only demand that the most important demand and that was to issue an executive order that would ban defense contractor so in a company that had a defense contractor to build plan, to build weapons of the federal government had to agree to hire people regardless of their race, that religion or national origin or their color. so this was executive order. it was not a law. it was issued as an emergency order to meet the demands of the war. and it was at the time seen as a tremendous victory. people compared to the emancipation proclamation which was another executive order. the problem with this was that because this kid was an executive order it would expire
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after the war. it only applied very narrowly to company that had a defense contract so was not any employer and so at the last minute a. philip randolph said we are going to call off the march for now but we are going to remember that we can continue this march. we can re-organize this market anytime so that set up this process. this was the beginning of the civil rights movement. >> host: how important was a. philip randolph in the movement? >> guest: a philip randolph was the leader of the -- african-american people have been denied entrance into the most powerful unions in the country in these unions excluded african-americans and they also excluded women from their membership. as a result of this the number of porters, these were black men that worked on a lecture he drink ours but across the country, sort of the equivalent
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of flight attendants today, they organized their own union and they turn to a philip randolph who actually, he was not a porter. he did not work in the job. he was a well-known socialist activist. he was a political activist. he published a newspaper and they turned to him because he was a well-known speaker and writer. he had been a shakespearean actor said he was a very good speaker. he turned to him really is a spokesperson and he became a very effective spokesperson for this growing union. at the time in the 1920s for a very small and powerless union but he really -- his claim to fame came when he supported the pullman company which operated these books returning cars to sign a contract with these borders. this was a first major contract
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that was one on behalf of african-american workers in the 1930s. he affiliated with the american veterans that labor and made this a very well-known established union. that established him and by the 1940s he was known as the leader of the civil rights union. reporter: . >> host: the march is often known as martin luther king's march on washington and that is really a name that it acquired in hindsight. at the time everybody knew and recognized a philip randolph is the principled leader of the march. >> host: what was martin luther king's role in the 1963 marks?
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>> guest: he was widely known as the leader of the southern civil rights movement, this movement that was based on nonviolent civil disobedience aimed at ending the system of jim crow in the south. he was a tremendous speaker. everybody knew that he was of the mongol speaker but he wasn't the only end in many ways but principled leader of what we would now is the civil rights movement so the civil rights movement i think it's important to remember was a national movement. it was movement that was not just focused on ending jim crow on the south. it was a movement that went back to this effort during the second world war two when equal access to jobs and really retained that effort to try to build a national movement that could and racial inequality. in 1963 bartlett the king was very well-known as a speak or, as the leader of this and in some ways a part of the movement
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when a. philip randolph went to reorganize this march that he had called off in 1941 everybody said you had better get martin luther king supporter. martin luther king said well i will support you but let's expand the march. the march is not just about winning equal access to jobs fighting employment discrimination. it's also about winning the right to vote in the south which a. philip randolph lived in europe sitting together right to vote. but for somebody living in montgomery who were living in atlanta this was the primary goal to end the segregation at lunch counters. i think the thing we popularly associated with the civil rights movement more broadly. that was the slogan for the march came from. this is a march for jobs and in some ways this was emerging of
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these two northern wing and southern wing. the northern wing thing accessing jobs being rooted in the labor movement by the brotherhood of porters and freedom coming arguing for voting rights arguing for desegregation and access to schools, the public spaces and in that wing martin luther king was the most important and prominent figure in that march. the march was a merger of these two. the actual day of the march, martin luther king's role was also interesting. he was the last of 10 speakers. the first was a. philip randolph who opened by setting the tone. he explained what they meant by this being a march for jobs and freedom. he explained the importance of ending discrimination but also fighting for economic justice, for winning jobs for everyone
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for living wage jobs and raising the minimum wage and he set out but that connection between jobs and freedom. instead of a mantra that was repeated throughout the day and all of the other speakers took up that connection and talked about the connection of racial inequality between jobs and freedom. it's interesting i think it important to remember by the time martin luther king came to the stage people were worn out. people had heard of. this has been going on for over two hours and that was just the event at the lincoln memorial. before this there had been a march. there was an actual march. posted the people there had traveled the night before so they work sauce did. it was a really exhausting experience in martin luther king , everybody knew that he could revive their spirits. focus them on going home and continuing the struggle so his
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role was uplifting. he was chosen as that role. everybody knew as a tremendous speaker he could do that. i think most of us have seen that speech and we can testify to the fact that this is an incredibly rousing speech. one thing that's important to keep in mind as he didn't really have to say much about the -- what the march was about peerbolte are the goals of this movement so that speech we remember and it's the only speech that most of us know about. many people think this was a march to get that speech. if we only room for that we really forget what the goals of the march were and we don't keep in mind the long history that i lay out in the book. >> would the end that day was martin luther king speaking? >> martin luther king was in the late afternoon. >> host: how long was the full speech?
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>> guest: the full speech was about 15 minutes long. he went over a lot of times. everybody would give him 10 minutes. everybody i think went over at this time. >> host: who was the most radical speaker? >> guest: will you now that's a really interesting question. in many ways what i would like to emphasize about this march is how radical all of the leaders were. a. philip randolph was somebody who was a leader in the socialist party. he had been arrested during the first world war decades earlier for opposing the war. this was at the height of the cold war when being a socialist was an incredibly dicey position to bm and here he was the most prominent spokesperson for this march. martin luther king himself he repeatedly talked about being a
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democratic socialist. he was somebody who was fully in line with the idea that in order to really achieve equality it wouldn't be enough to just remove the barriers to access but this would require a warrior warrior -- reworking of the system to ensure that people have access to decent housing and decent education and decent jobs. these were very radical ideas of the time and everybody who went to that speaker's podium was on board. they wouldn't have endorsed the march and certainly their organizations would fail supported, they all represented would not have endorsed this march. this was a very radical message and one that i think we really need to remember to the important achievement of this demonstration to bring so many people together around a message that was so powerful and so radical. in many ways i think the march itself was very radical. i think probably the most
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militant person who was there was john lewis who is now in congress. he was the leader of the student nonviolent coordinating committee. he was a young man. he was a college student. the other members of his organization they were known as snake the student nonviolent coordinating committee for college students. they were his speech was written in the spirit of snake. they wrote the speech together and they also circulated it the night before a lot of them objected to the militant tone of the speech.
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placidity tone it down? >> guest: he did and this became an important and they civil rights movement. the criticism of the speech got remembered as an example of a radicalism and the militancy of the civil rights movement getting toned down in restrained actually in the book i explain an important nuance to that story which is the principle people toning down that speech were not the kennedy administration. they were not white liberals who are moderately supporting the march. the principle objection to the speech came from a philip randolph and a. philip randolph deputy executive assistant. he was a person who is probably the most responsible for introducing the idea of nonviolent disobedience to the united states. he was somebody's studied this
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strategy that has been developed in india and he imported it to the civil rights movement. in 1941 back in the first march on washington, and when he saw john lewis' speech he objected to one phrase in particular which was that john lewis said this is a revolution. he said we need to march through the south like sherman did in reference to the union general during the civil war who burned pieces of the south to the ground pretty said we need to march to the south like sherman did and burning jim crow to the ground and then he paused and added, nonviolently. this was a dramatic effect. this was the student nonviolent in coordinating committee. they were talking about arms and burning things to the ground but
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these references to violence were too much for a philip randolph and other nonviolent leaders. they said you can be militant. a. philip randolph pointed out that he was going to call for a revolution ended his speech he did say this is a massive moral revolution for freedom but the references to violence were too much. another objection that was raised by a lot of the leaders plus the fact that john lewis said they would not support john f. kennedy, president john f. kennedy's civil rights bill which was a major part of the demand. this was a bill that was aimed primarily at ensuring equal access to public facilities in the south to desegregating schools to protecting the voting act. all of the civil rights leaders were very critical of this bill. he did not have enough enforcement power. also importantly as kennedy
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introduced it did not include a fair employment law, i love that remember the principle object of the march on washington back on 1941 a law prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race or color or religion. president kennedy didn't support this provision so everybody who is behind the march on washington wanted to push kennedy further. the problem was that sncc said we don't want this. it's too little too late so there are two ways in which they got him to tone down that speech , to drop the explicit reference to violence and to say this is a weak law. we have a lot of problems with this loss but we wanted and we want more which was the official message of the march. the march wanted to have that
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love that they wanted to make it stronger. one of the principle outcomes of the march on washington one of the most important victories of the march was organized a national movement around adding a fair employment clause to kennedy's civil rights bill. they succeeded in making it a much stronger in the more powerful lot in part because of that criticism that john lewis had originally used to say we don't want the law at all. john lewis asked to talk about this. he is written a memoir and he talked this experience and he said how hard it was to challenge these older very experienced leaders and he said they convinced me to change the outlines of my message but he said they didn't really change the central part of the speech which was what is needed is a
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massive revolution. that was something that was echoed by the other leaders of the demonstration. >> host: a. philip randolph, first the earth. second speaker? >> guest: . >> host: we are going to do all 10 by the way. >> guest: the second speaker was the person of united auto workers union. this was a union that supported the civil rights movement for a long time and he was perhaps the most important white labor leader and a. philip randolph was the most important black leader. walter whitman was the most important white leader there. >> host: third? >> guest: rory wilson the leader of the naacp. the naacp was the largest civil rights organization and they oldest civil rights organization. it was an organization that had
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won a tremendous victory just less than a decade before by bringing the legal case that resulted in the supreme court case brown versus board of education which made it illegal in principle to segregate public schools according to raise. in the decade after that court victory they had pushed and pushed and pushed to turn that legal decision into a reality. at the early 1960s very few of the schools in the south and for the north for that matter had become integrated. so they were focused on pushing the kennedy administration essentially to enforce this decision. they were pushing for desegregation of schools but i think an important element of his speech was echoing the point that a. philip randolph had made in his opening speech which is
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that desegregation, antidiscrimination laws, laws that were a hint at ending enforcing the right to vote and ending public accommodations these things were not going to be effective unless america -- african-americans have access to decent paying jobs. one of the important things about his speech was it was in some ways not central to the naacp and echoing a. philip randolph which is economic justice and racial equality are not going to be achieved in escalation but the two have to go together. he was also like john lewis extremely critical of president kennedy's civil rights bill. he likened it to water down medicine. it's not going to do any good unless we make it much stronger so he also said we need to push to strengthen this bill.
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>> host: fourth? >> guest: i guess the fourth speaker was john lewis who had been pressured during the previous night to change his speech and he came and i think the important thing to remember about his speech is that is often remembered -- it's interesting i teach about the civil rights movement ended my courses i try to use these documents. essentially very easy to find john lewis original speech the one that was edited. it's printed all over in textbooks. it's on the web. it's actually hard to find is the speech that he actually gave, the one after was edited. and i think it's a remarkable speech. it is by far the most radical and a very fiery speech. again he left out the calls for violence, burning jim crow to
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the ground. he didn't say that but he said me to be in the streets. we need to push for a civil rights bill that will really achieve equality and he goes into this fantastic set of examples of how this law as it's being introduced by president kennedy might affect various african-americans. he, like a lot of sncc leaders felt if the poorest african-americans were not affected by this then it wasn't worth pushing for. this really had to affect everyone. he pointed for example to a maid who earned five dollars a week and a house where the total income of the household was $100,000 a year and he said we need to build that wall achieve equality for a maid like that. he said we need a bill that will
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achieve equality for the unemployed and the homeless. so he sort of called for a tremendously strengthened civil rights bill some of which were things that were in the official demands of the march. the march actually called for a federal policy that would end of employment that would provide jobs for all the unemployed black or white workers. they were calling for raising the minimum wage to a level that they said would provide the standard of living for a family. they called for raising their minimum wage to $2.50 which in today's terms would be $15 an hour. they were calling for a very dramatic increase in the minimum wage. again all of this rested on this principle that would be one thing to end discrimination. it would be one thing to ensure integration but that wasn't going to make people equal pay
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the only way to make people equal is to create a society which people had access to the standard of living that were provided with a decent standard of living, ethan -- decent job, it decent housing,. >> host: the fifth speaker, who got to follow john lewis? >> guest: she was not an official speaker. she was not one it the official spokespeople for the march but daisy bates spoke. she was the leader of the naacp naacp -- naacp branch famous for leading the integration of the high school, little rock high school and leading these young black students played valiantly come into the school and tremendous opposition, massive crowds. a white supremacist yelling at them.
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she was a newspaper publisher. she was very well-known and it's fascinating that she was not invited to be one of the official speakers. several weeks before the march a number of women who are involved in the civil rights movement tour central leaders people like daisy bates who had been a principle leader of the movement very well-known covered in the national press people like polly murray who helped to organize the march on washington back in 1941, she was the principle strategist of that initial march on washington. people like ella baker was another leader of the naacp at at -- naacp. they had gone to philip randolph and they said we were looking at this plan for a march and we noticed you didn't have one woman invited to speak. women have been central to this movement. he hemmed and hawed. they went to the other leaders.
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they went to martin luther king and the equivocated and they didn't say anything. they did make a commitment and later they released a list of official speakers and still there was not one woman on the list of official speakers. number of women who are involved in the movement actually threatened to picket a. philip randolph what he did publicity. he did his speech at the national press club to call for the march and to publicize the march and they threatened to picket him. they decided at the last minute not to do that. we want to support this and it's an important thing and in a last-minute deal the men agreed to allow daisy bates to speak. in a sort of further insult she wasn't asked to give a major address. it was an official address. she was supposed to introduce what they called the heroines of the movie.
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a ceremonial break in the movement tour in the march in the essay are and she was allowed to stand up to each introduced rosa parks who has been really famous as a leader of the mob summary bus boycott. number of -- diane nash who was a young activist in the south. these really incredibly powerful women who were involved in the movement. ..
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>> >> and then she sat down and it went on with your initial program of the day. >> restarted with a fillip randolph john lewis to follow daisy bates? >> there was another white speaker who was the
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representative of the national catholic council and all of those majors nominations of rabbis and catholics mostly giving their support explaining the tradition the way their own religious traditions of held the principles of the civil-rights movement and there was the question as to that catholics are the protestants a and the jews with the racial equality treating as a violation what about the other aspects of this march?
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these are also part of the strong supporters of the movement and so those religious leaders emphasized the connections between equality and economic justice. >> the seventh speaker? >> that represented that it corer of the quality is the organizers of the first march on washington. the associate director of the march during the second
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world war for racial equality this is the organization that had first implemented these ideas of non-violent civil disobedience across the country. and the co-founder in he was supposed to speak that day so was on the official program but was arrested for a protest in the south. and the kennedy administration offered to do that and he refused and he said i will not leave others had been arrested they read as speech that james farmer had written it wasn't a
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powerful message from the jim crow south. he was the last speaker spee vicki was the seventh but we're missing number eight in the number nine the national urban league was an african-american organization in was a civil service organization emphasizes providing services to pioneer that
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marshall plan and that was based upon and the emergency aid given to the european countries after the second world war in to kill and said, and that certainly that government could help poor people in the united states. because of the long history of racial oppression of slavery of jim crow discrimination it was uncalled for for the federal government to put a commitment on the scale of the marshall plan in this echoed that was wanting to
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end discrimination with the legacy of the centuries of the equality. so he is his speech of jobs and freedom. >> we have nine other than because the mill k finishes so who will spoke in a the representative of those who spoke as well. throughout the day there were a number of people who came to support like bob dylan peter paul and mary there was said just dean baker was living in europe
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and she read a letter faxed. >> host: does exist anywhere from start to finish? the public television station in boston you have to watch in parts. someone who'd talked about but did not speak everybody was fairly controversial.
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but he was a communist and a member of the young communist league that he was also a homosexual. and he was arrested is under homosexual sex in by far was widely known the principal architect and was a tremendous grass-roots organizer and then to make a tremendous statement facility a philip randolph to organize the march the first person in he called was rustin and they put together a plan but when
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randolph led to get support from the major civil-rights organizers the principal objections came he is a former communist and was arrested for homosexual sex he cannot be the principal for this march. and a. philip randolph initially conceited and said okay. and everybody said of course, the nobody could of the object to him but will
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call him my assistant in to put it to organize that march. to be the officials broke person to he talks about the
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fact that martin luther keno -- king gave the i have the dream speech two months before he spoke in washington. >> that was a very important student for the march that occurred. and of hundred thousand came judy treat.
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to lead to have a positive impact. and to have a massive demonstration in there was of great deal to the south in criticism of the federal government with civil-rights activist in the south and people were worried. but the march in detroit to is very peaceful and a public-relations success in a lot of people that were hesitant to say we can support that but until key -- and i'm okay previewed and had a recording of him giving the same speech almost one year earlier in north carolina at a


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