Coming Civil Rights March in Capital
Plans for Huge Demonstration in Washington
A Mass Demonstration in which as many as 150,000 Negro and white marchers may take part, in Washington on August 28, will climax five months of nationwide protest against racial discrimination. The object of the demonstration is to direct attention to Negro grievances, particularly the insufficiency of employment opportunities, and to impress upon Congress the importance of passing President Kennedy's omnibus civil rights bill.
As proposed last May 4 by A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the demonstration was to point up the “outrage of joblessness among Negroes.” Presently that purpose was broadened. The Rev. George Lawrence, northeast regional representative of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said on June 12 that Negroes would stage a “massive, militant and monumental sit-in” in the nation's capital to obtain “full, total and equal rights for the Negro now.” There was talk of demonstrations on the Capitol grounds and of sit-ins in House and Senate galleries and in the offices of members of Congress.
In his civil rights message to Congress, June 19, President Kennedy cautioned against “demonstrations which can lead to violence.” The President asserted that “Unruly tactics or pressures will not help and may hinder the effective consideration” of the administration's civil rights bill. Therefore, he urged “all community leaders, Negro and white, to do their utmost to lessen tensions and to exercise self-restraint” so that Congress might have an “opportunity to freely work its will.”