This archived article was written by: John Keetch
On Aug. 28, 1963, about 20,000 people joined a protest march that has been dubbed by historians as the “March on Washington” They marched through the streets of our nation’s capital, congregating on the monument to the great liberator, Abraham Lincoln, and the great Martin Luther King, Jr. give his famous “I have a dream,” speech. People were moved, and the Civil Rights movement was brought to the attention of the American People.
In 1954,Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, ruled that separate but equal” facilities are illegal. This overturned the 1896 ruling of Plessy V. Ferguson, and ruled that separate facilities are unequal by nature. This began a ball that has been rolling ever since.
In 1955, Rosa Parks, a tired black woman, refused to give up her seat to a white man. Her arrest sparked a boycott of the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama, which brought the great Dr. King onto the stage. Eventually, the busses desegregated on Dec. 21, 1956.
But, this was only the beginning. In 1957, nine black students were blocked from entering formerly all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., by order of the governor. It ended in a standoff between federal and state troops, reminiscent of the war that was already fought over the very subject.
In 1962, the first black student enrolled in the University of Mississippi. The incident was met with violence on all parts causing President Kennedy to send 5,000 federal troops to put down protests. And, in 1963, the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety turned fire hoses and tear gas on black protesters. The event was televised, and brought much support for the civil rights fighters.
Finally, in 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin, and provides the federal government with power to enforce the desegregation actions.
This year is an historic year in the history of the United States. This year, for the first time, we have the possibility of having either a female or black president. After the long road that we have traveled, the march on Washington may finally be completed. So get out there and vote. To register contact the SUN Center or Andrew Hardman.