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It is estimated that approximately 250000 people participated in this demonstration, which was organized and executed by a group of civil rights organizations represented by individuals, who had a common objective of liberating the African Americans from racial and economic discrimination (Haskins 22). These organizations included and not limited to; the congress of racial equality, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the National Urban League, which were represented by individuals who included James Farmer, Martin Luther King Junior, John Lewis, Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young respectively (Haskins 43).
It is important to note that despite the US declaration of independence in 1776, it had become apparent that the white Americans were not willing to co-exist with citizens of other races, such as the African Americans, Hispanics, Asians among others, who were forced to live under inhumane conditions especially due to the fact that they could not be allowed to compete fairly in the job market (Euchner 31). It is due to this that these groups went ahead to form civil rights organizations so as to try and pressure the government to accommodate them in the system without discrimination. However, up to 1963, not much progress had been made in this respect and indeed the government had continued to apply force and detention to counter any actions such as mass protests. Several sources indicate that the police and other security organs used means such as clubbing, releasing dogs to attack demonstrators as well as other overt and covert actions such as conniving with white citizens to attack the demonstrators at strategic points under the watch of the security officers. It is under these circumstances that people such as Martin Luther King junior found themselves in prison, for example at the time he authored the famous letter from Birmingham jail (Haskins 16). It may be necessary to note that the 1963 march to Washington was not only an African American affair as it is reported that approximately 25% of those in attendance were white Americans, who were there to support their fellow country men and women in their fight for justice (Euchner 18). The demonstration was not without opposition as people such as the then president Kennedy opposed it at first though he later changed his mind after realizing that nothing could have stopped it. Human rights activists for example Malcolm X also did not agree with the idea and indeed, he is quoted as referring to the proposed demonstration as, “Farce on Washington,” though he is noted as being one of the people who attended (Euchner 28). The opposition felt that the issues that were to be the subject of the march were not accurate while others such as the Ku Klux Klan were known to be against the idea of a society which accorded the blacks equal rights as those of the whites. In fact, they were always violent towards the blacks as well as their sympathizers especially in cities such as Birmingham and Jacksonville among others. The major goals of the march to Washington included and not limited to having the congress pass a comprehensive bill aimed at abolishing segregation in public facilities so as to allow all citizens have unrestricted access regardless of their race. The participants also wanted their right to vote guaranteed and protected as well as be allowed to compete fairly in the job market through facilitation of training opportunities and fair recruitment procedures (Haskins 60). According to plans, the march was to start at the Washington monument all way through to the Lincoln
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