California Educator

September 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 71

Learning Teachable Moment It was more than a teachable moment; it was a teachable year for the Three retired Bay Area educators were witnesses to civil rights history in 1963. They have vivid memories of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 summers ago, where they sang songs with a mass of humanity and listened in awe at a peaceful protest like the nation had never seen. Witnesses to History Three California teachers remember the 1963 March on Washington PHOTOS AND STORY BY MIKE MYSLINSKI All black and white photos for this article are from Judy Collier's collection. Above, Judy Collier arrives early for the march. 52 Educator 09 Sep 2013 v3.6 int.indd 52 Organizers expected a crowd of 100,000. A crowd of about 250,000 came — white, African American, poor, wealthy, famous, young and old. It was a hot summer day, and it was time to turn up the heat. Margaret Browne, Judy Collier and Harriet Hutchinson were thrilled to hear Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his "I Have a Dream" speech, which transfixed the country with its passion and purpose. These young women from Tennessee, Illinois and New Jersey believed in the formal demands of the march organizers, which included an immediate end to segregation in schools, an improved national minimum wage, voting rights, a federal jobs program, and "comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress." And they agree today that the event has lots to offer new generations of students about perseverance and dedication to the cause of civil rights and the ongoing fight for social and economic justice. There are still lessons to be learned and taught. The march led to President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which the U.S. Supreme Court recently watered down in June. They sang songs locked in arms with friends and strangers, songs like "We Shall Overcome," "Blowin' in the Wind" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." Performers at the Lincoln Memorial included Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary, Odetta, and gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. It was Jackson, standing near Dr. King, who urged him during his speech to go off-script somewhat and "tell them about the dream, Martin." His improvising immortalized his words and electrified the crowd. S E P T E M B E R 2013 9/3/13 2:26 PM

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - September 2013