1963 March on Washington Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

Instructor: Andrea Miller

Andrea is currently a social studies middle school and high school world teacher in Ohio. She has been a part of the teaching community for 9 years. She has a BA in history from Wright State University, as well as a MEd in education from the University of Dayton. In the education field, Andrea has taught workshops including OGT Success and Writing for Life. Andrea has also been a middle school debate team coach for several years. In the history field, Andrea is currently working towards a Public History Certification in Archival Studies at Wright State University.

The March on Washington in 1963 was a massive demonstration by the American people expressing their desire for change in the country. In this lesson you will learn about the reasons for the march, as well as a famous speech that took place there.

The March on Washington in 1963

Imagine going to college and doing a good job with your studies and grades. Then imagine applying for a job and being rejected immediately. I'm sure you would be quite confused. Now imagine you found out that you were rejected because of the color of your skin. Unfortunately, in America in the mid-1900s this scenario was often the reality for African Americans. At this time, African Americans were highly discriminated against in many parts of the country. To discriminate means to judge someone or treat them differently because of their appearance or beliefs, like rejecting someone for a job just because they're African American.

By the 1960s, African Americans were sick of the poor treatment they were receiving and had started to fight back. On August 28, 1963 thousands of Americans, black and white, would march to Washington D.C. to voice their desire for change.

The Civil Rights Act

By this time, African Americans had been fighting for freedom from slavery and for equality for over 100 years. Laws had been slowly changing African Americans' status in this country. For example, in 1870 the 15th amendment was passed, which granted African American males the right to vote.

In 1963, another major law was up for approval in congress. The Civil Rights Act was a law designed to completely end legal segregation in public places as well as in the work place. That meant that African Americans could no longer be forced to use separate facilities. Unfortunately, the law had been meeting some resistance in Congress. Americans from all different backgrounds knew it was time to prove to Congress that they wanted the law passed.

The March

Major civil rights groups from the south joined together to organize the massive, but peaceful march into Washington D.C. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) urged people from all over the country to attend the march.

The march started at the Washington Monument and went on for one mile to the Lincoln Monument. At each point, there were speeches and performances made by famous activists and politicians. In the end, the march on Washington became one of the largest in American history. About 200,000 people from all over the country marched through D.C. enjoying a day of powerful speeches, songs, and prayers.

I Have a Dream

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