Wilkins - 5
on television or heard the stirring words over the radio will ever
forget the experience. Order there was. And good humor. And
love. More than a hundred members of both Houses of Congress were
present. There was great satisfaction in completely disproving the
warnings of chiefs of sections and of the proprietors of many
stores that blacks would "tear up the town." Women employe[e]s
were told to stay off the streets and to keep there doors locked!
No gathering of comparable size has been organized in so
short a time. The meeting where the March idea was born was held
July 2, 1963. That it was a success eight weeks later is a tribute
to Bayard Rustin, coordinator and general planner, to A. Philip
Randolph who dreamed the dream, and to their mostly volunteer
staffs. No grants of funds or foundation money were used. The
organizations bore the expenses.
President Kennedy, who had given the enterprise his blessing,
was in a good mood as he greeted the ten leaders at the White House
afterwards. He said he knew that the proper follow-up would be
made. The impact of the March on the unsettled civil rights situ
ation and on the Congress was unprecedented. More than 200,000
Americans had petitioned their government in person for civil rights
legistlation and for jobs.
As President Johnson was to say almost two years later, "the
secret heart of America" had been laid bare.
It was in 1964 that the civil rights bill became law with
the exception of Title 6, the fair employment section, which be
came law a year later.
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