tv Book Discussion on The March on Washington CSPAN February 19, 2016 6:35am-7:26am EST
he also said we need to push to strengthen this bill. the fourth speaker was john lewis who had been pressured during the previous night to change his speech. and became indicated, i think the important thing to remember about his speech is that it's often remember, it's interesting, i teach about the civil rights movement. in my courses i try to use these speeches, these documents. it's easy to find john lewis his original speech, the one that was edited gets printed all over. it's a lots of textbooks, it's on the web. what's actually hard to find is the speech he actually gave, the one after it was edited. i think it's a remarkable speech. it is by far the most radical and militant, a very fiery speech. again, he left out the calls for
violence, we are going to burn jim crow to the ground. he didn't say that but he said we need to be in the streets, it in the street. we need to push for a civil rights bill that will really achieve equality. and he goes into this fantastic sort of set of examples of how this law as it's being introduced by president kennedy might affect various african-americans. and he, like a lot of snake leaders felt, it's th the pooret after americans were not affected by this that it wasn't worth pushing for, this had to affect everyone -- sncc. e-border for example, to a made to earn $5 a week in a house with a total income of household was $100,000 to you. and he said we need a bill that will achieve equality for a made
like the. he said we need a bill that will achieve equality for the unemployed and for the homeless. he sort of called for a tremendously strengthened civil rights bill, some of which were things were in the official demands of the march. so the march actually called for a federal policy that would end unemployment, that would provide jobs for all the unemployed, black or white workers. they were calling for raising the minimum wage to a level that they said would provide a decent standard of living for a family. they called for raising the minimum wage for $2 a deep, in today's terms would be $15 an hour. they were calling for a very dramatic increase in the minimum wage. and begin all of this rested on this principle it would be one thing to end discrimination. it would be one thing to ensure
integration. but that wasn't going to make people equal, that the only way to make people equal was to create a society in which people had access to these standard of living that would provide them with a decent standard of living, decent jobs, decent housing, decent education. >> host: the fifth speaker? >> guest: one of, she was actually not an official speaker. she wasn't an official, would've the official spokespeople for the march. but daisy bates spoken she was the leader of the naacp branch in little rock, arkansas. she was famous for leading the integration of the high school, little rock high school, a leading these young black students who had really valley of gone into the school under tremendous opposition, massive crowds of white supremacists yelling at them.
daisy bates was a person would lead this movement in little rock. she was a newspaper publisher. she was very well known. it's fascinating that she was not invited to be one of the official speakers. and, in fact, several weeks before the march a number of women who are involved in the civil rights movement who were really central leaders, people like daisy bates who have been a really principled leader of the movement, very well known, covered in the national press, people like polly murray who helped organize the march on washington back in 1941. she was the principal strategist of that initial march on washington. people like ella baker was another leader of the naacp, they had gone to a. philip randolph and they said we were looking at this plan for a march and we noticed you didn't have one woman invited to speak. and women have been central to this movement. he kind of came down hard.
they went to the other leaders bayard rustin to are looking at all equivocated and didn't say anything. they did make a commitment. then later the they released the list of official speakers and still there was not one woman on this list of official speakers. a number of women who involved in the movement actually threatened to picket a. philip randolph we needed publicity. he was giving a speech at the national press club to call for the march and to publicize the march and they threatened to picket him. they decided at the last minute not to do that. they said we want to support this, it's important thing. in a last minute deal, the men agreed to allow daisy bates to speak. in a sort of further insult she wasn't asked to give a major address. it wasn't an official address.
she was supposed to introduce what they called the heroines of the movement. it was sort of a ceremonial break in the movement, in the march, the affair. and she was allowed to stand up. she introduced rosa parks who have been really famous as a leader of the montgomery bus boycott. a number of -- diane nash, a young student activist in the south. is really incredibly powerful women who were involved in the movement, and she was allowed to sort of producing. they spoke up, or they stood up. people clapped and then that was over and that was sort of the end of, these are the women in the movement. that action was a very important event for these women who come after the march a number of women talked about how they realized that they would have to push much harder for gender equality. this represented a turning
point. think and the broader history of feminism, a number of these women are involved in the next year or so in building the national organization for women, now, which would emerge as the principal organization of the feminist movement later in the 19 statistics is to be an important moment. at the time it was just sort of insult and i think a lot of the women who wear their sockets as such. so daisy bates wasn't an official speaker but she got up, and then she sat down. been they went on with the official program of the day. >> host: we started with a. philip randolph, walter wood for, roy wilkins, john lewis, daisy bates. who followed the daisy bates transferred there was another white speaker who was eugene carson blake, he was the
representative of the national catholic council and he was direction of the catholic church. all of the major denominations, a protestant denomination, a representative of rabbis and of catholics. mostly giving their support explaining the traditions of the ways in which their own religious tradition upheld the principles of the civil rights movement. and interestingly there were questions also before the march as to whether these denominations, the catholics, the protestants, the jews, they were very supportive of the idea of racial equality. they suck treating people, discrimination as a violation of sort of their basic principles of their religion. but how do you think of the other aspects of this march, about calling for the raising of the minimum wage?
federal jobs christian program? what they found during the organizing was that these are also important part of these religious traditions. catholics for a long time were very strong supporter of the movement. state-supported ideas of calls for economic justice. so the religious leaders, the white religious leaders emphasize these connections between racial equality and economic justice, again picking up on the theme of for jobs and freedom host a the seventh speaker on the march on washington? >> guest: he represented the organization core, the congress of racial equality, which was one of the principal organizers of the first march on washington back in 1941. this was an organization that bayard rustin, the associate director of the march, had helped to form.
the leader of, and bayard rustin's cofounder of core who was james farmer was actually in prison and he was supposed to speak that day. so he was on the official program but he had been arrested for protest in the south. the kennedy administration actually offered to arrange israelis so he could be there and he refused that. he said i'm not going to lead. there were other people who have been arrested and he said i'm not going to leave my comrades here in jail while i go to washington to give this speech. so floyd red a speech that james
farmer dave, had written from jail. it was a very powerful message saying i'm speaking to you from the jail in the jim crow south. and so he was actually the last speaker i believe the 14 came to the -- >> host: so he was the seventh speaker. we are still missing eight and nine before martin luther king finished on number 10. who followed floyd? >> guest: so whitney young wasn't the director, executive director of the national urban league. and national urban league was a large, an african-american organization. it was in some ways a civil rights organization. in some ways a civil service organization. they emphasized providing services for the poor, pushing for federal policies that would help the poor. they were actually pioneering at
the time what was known as a marshall plan for the negro. this was of course based upon the emergency aid that had been given to european countries by the federal government after the second world war. so this was massive funding for infrastructure development, for schools, for hospitals. and whitney young said if the federal government can put this support into helping poor people in france, then certainly the federal government can put the support helping poor people in the united states. and he said because of the long history of racial oppression, the long history of slavery, the long history of jim crow of discrimination, it was really cold for for the federal government to put a commitment on the scale of the marshall plan into fighting racial equality. in some ways echoed again that
message of the march, that it was one thing to end discrimination but that wasn't going to end the legacy of the centuries of inequality. so whitney young again sort of used his speech to echo again that simple message of jobs and freedom of connecting those two. >> host: i think we have night out of the 10 speakers because martin luther king finishes. who else spoke at the march? >> guest: matthew aim and and joaquin, represent of rabbis who spoke as well. throughout the day there were a number of people who came to the podium. they were musicians. bob dylan, for example, spoke. peter paul and mary saying. justine baker wasn't actors came and she had actually been living in europe and she came and gave an address.
she actually read, she read a letter from americans who are living in paris, as she was at the time. there were a number of small events, people who came to the podium. >> host: professor jones, does there exist anywhere did you of the march from start to finish? >> guest: there is coming as. actually this is something, much of it is available online. the public television station in boston has most of it on their website. you can watch -- you have to watch it in parts but most of it is out there online post that someone would talk about in this discussion but didn't speak, bayard rustin. why did he not speak? >> guest: he was going for some reason, every of the speech was fairly controversial. for a number of reasons he was particularly controversial
turkey with someone who'd been for a long time a political radical. he had been a communist in the 1930s. he was a member of the young communist league. another reason he was controversial was he was gay, a homosexual. and he had been arrested in the 1950s for homosexual sex which is illegal in most of the country at the time. and so while he was at this by far widely known principle sort of architect of nonviolence, he was a tremendous grassroots organizer. everybody knew that he was the person that if you want to build a massive march and make a tremendous statement, this is the person you need to call on. so when a. philip randolph decided that he wanted to reorganize this march, he said, the first person he called was eric rustin and bayard rustin
and him put together a plan for how to organize support for this. but when a. philip randolph went to get support from a major civil rights leaders, a number of them raised objection to bayard rustin being involved in the principal objection came from roy wilkins was the president of the naacp. he said this is a guy who was a former communist, i can't who has been arrested for homosexual sex. we cannot have him be the principle sort of spokesperson for this march. a. philip randolph actually initially conceded. he said okay, we won't do that. he said i'll be the principal director of the march and i will be the official leader of this march. everybody said of course we can't object to a. philip randolph. of course, another radical but nobody could object to them.
and then he said now you've all agree to that i'm going to name my a system, and that's bayard rustin. and he essentially put bayard rustin indefensible job of organizing this march. randolph remained the official spokesperson. he gave the opening speech. bayard rustin was the person in the background. and not completely in the background. if you look at "life" magazine for example, when they covered it, they have a picture on their front cover after the march with a bayard rustin and a. philip randolph with the title the leader. so it was clear to everyone who was the leader of this. but it allowed in the sense to deflect some of the criticism, some of the scrutiny of bayard rustin to a. philip randolph in the official position. bayard rustin did get a chance to speak. he came out at the very in, actually after martin luther king spoke. bayard rustin, and a. philip
randolph came back on the stage and they read the full list of the demands of the march, the official the bands of the march. and then bayard rustin, everybody there, he asked everybody to raise their hand and pledge to go home and keep fighting until they realized the full list of the demands. so he got on the stage and he was a better, but he was out with the official speakers. >> host: in david maraniss book on detroit he talks about the fact that martin luther king gave the "i have a dream" speech two months before he spoke in washington. >> guest: that's right. yeah, yeah. that was a very important event for actually the march that occurred later. one, it demonstrated, it was almost as big as the march on washington, about 100,000 people came to detroit. and it demonstrated that this type of event could have a
positive impact a lot of people were worried about having such a massive demonstration at a time when tensions were very high. there was a lot of frustration at the slow pace of progress toward integration. there have been a great deal, a high level of violence against civil rights activist and the self. there was criticism about the government's ability to protect people. civil rights activist in the south. so people were worried. them march in detroit have been very peaceful, very successful. it again sort of a public relations success. so it led a lot of people who are hesitant about the march on washington to say we can support this. as you mentioned, martin luther king sort of previewed his "i have a dream" speech. it's interesting they recently discovered a recording of him giving the same speech almost a year earlier in north carolina at a high school where this was
given. this is a speech he had actually pioneered several years before. the outlines of it when he spoke initially, the first of i think this refrain of the i have a dream was used when you spoke actually before the afl-cio, the labor movement, almost two years before the march on washington. it was a speech that he had sort of perfected over time. in fact, one of the stories is actually by the time it came around to august of 1963, for the march in washington and his advisors told him not to give that speech, the "i have a dream" speech. they wrote a different speech. if you watch him, there are records of his speech and he actually begins not with that "i have a dream" refrain. he begins with the image of a check that is written by the government. he alludes to the promise of
freedom and the founding documents come into constitution and the declaration of independence, and he says this check has come back marked insufficient funds and we are here to demand that we get a payment on this promise of american democracy. is a very powerful speech but e gets happy into that speech and then he actually pushed his notes beside, and he went back to his speech that he had given over and over again actually over the previous year. he had given it very effectively in detroit. and he knew that this wasn't the speech come again, that would bring the crowd back to their feet. there are rumors that jackson, the famous gosper -- gospel singer thing just before was behind saint maarten, tell them about the dream. so she may have sensed this new speech wasn't getting it. it wasn't getting the right notes. so he didn't speech the way, pushed it aside anyway back to
this "i have a dream" speech and he gave a speech that is not one of the most famous speeches in american history. there's no mistake as to why that is. not a mistake. this is an incredibly powerful speech and he knew that perhaps when jackson was reminding of that come that this was the note to end on. that's the refrain we all know. >> host: two weeks after the march of september 15, 63, birmingham, alabama. >> guest: that's right when we look at this march as the tremendous success we remember it as an uplifting speech. we forget how complicated the history was after that. after the speech wasn't a speech in which everybody said okay, we were wrong about this, let's give everybody a quality. it actually marked a really intense a year of conflict. i think nothing punctuated that conflict more than the bombing
of the church in birmingham alabama. this was on a sunday morning when people were preparing for church services. there was a group of girls in a basement who were preparing for this service and they were all killed in this explosion that was set by a white supremacist who opposed the bill that was before congress. i think it reminds us that this was how hard it was and what was at stake. this was a movement that was really going to the core of many peoples beliefs about what this nation should be. and it did change a lot of minds but it also brought people to the positions of patriot and a commitment to inequality. we see the reinvigoration of this movement that was opposed
to the civil rights movement i think very clearly in this really horrific bombing in birmingham. >> host: professor jones here at the university of wisconsin, the book "the march on washington: jobs, freedom, and the forgotten history of civil rights." this is a tv on c-span2. >> stay with c-span live this morning at 9:15 a.m. eastern for the ceremony in the great hall of the supreme court in honor of justice antonin scully. president obama, michelle obama, supreme court justices and members of congress are expected to be among those attending. following a private ceremony the body of justice scalia will lie in repose and the great hall will be open to the public. watch on c-span and c-span.org. spirit award to the widest coverage continues in south carolina.
>> next on booktv tom lewis talks about the history of washington, d.c. from george washington's decision on a 10-mile site as the capital of the united states in 1791 to the early construction of federal buildings and ever-changing social and political landscape. posted by smithsonian associates in washington, d.c., this is an hour and a half. >> our guest tonight is tom lewis, professor of english a