ATLANTA — As Atlanta remembers Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the importance of the civil rights icon’s speech at the historic March on Washington will take center stage.
On August 28, 1963, a quarter-million people gathered for an event that would take the American civil rights movement to a new level.
“When you have the march and the galvanizing around it, no one in America could deny this movement was happening,” says Nichole Moore, Director of Education at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
The March on Washington culminated with Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous words - "I have a dream.”
The march and speech were a turning point for the movement.
Civil rights leaders were riding the momentum of efforts like the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They needed an event that would take the movement nationwide.
The March on Washington promoted the fight for racial and economic equality.
“They’re asking for a minimum wage,” says Moore. “They’re asking for things that will not only benefit African-Americans, but all Americans.”
The march involved a diverse crowd. There were religious leaders, labor leaders, and entertainers.
And you had Dr. King’s dream.
“He goes from speech-giver to the preacher that he really was,” says Moore. “His mannerisms, his body, the passion in which he speaks about this. This does serve as a catalyst. It’s a turn for the movement.”
Soon after the march, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, then the Voting Rights Act.
Both were important elements in Dr. King’s dream.