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Wilkins - 4

that he was sending an omnibus civil rights bill to the Congress.

It was that bill, at least those portions that survived Con
gressional committee treatment, which became the Civil Rights Act
of 1964. It was called for by President Johnson in his first
speech to the joint houses of Congress after the state funeral of
President Kennedy.

Between the sending of a civil rights message to the Congress
in June and his assassination in November, two events in this mo
mentous decade had an effect on the civil rights movement.

The nation reacted with shock and horror in September, 1963,
when a bomb exploded in a Birmingham church and killed four little
Negro girls. Evidently the explosion was a booby-trap type that
caught the girls on their way, in the building, to Sunday School.
No one can estimate the anger of millions of black citizens and
the millions of sympathetic whites. The overwhelming sentiment was
that the government must act to halt this racial terror.

The event which added to the pride in our country, in a sense
of achievement under the system of American democracy, was the
March on Washington of August 28, 1963. Some 220,000, about 40,000
of them white, journeyed to Washington for one day of petitioning
and then went quietly and soberly--and proud--back to their homes.

They marched down Constititution avenue to the Lincoln monu
ment. There, in a crowd that stretched down the Mall, they heard
ten short speeches by the leaders of the ten cooperating organiza
tions. And they heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., give his fam
ous speech, heard 'round the work, "I Have a Dream."

No one who was there or who watched the history-making event

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