Fifty summers ago, the scale of the simmering battle for civil rights exploded almost overnight from its frontlines in the defiantly segregated South to the national stage with the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Peaceful demonstrators demanded justice for African Americans. Looking out at the crowd of 250,000 people in front of him, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his towering “I Have a Dream” speech that still reverberates to this day. Watching King speak that day still swells our hearts and minds.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of that march in 1963, and to keep alive the work and hopes of the civil rights struggle in California and the nation, CTA partnered with the Equal Justice Society (EJS) in Oakland to support its national agenda of achieving racial equality. Now in its 13th year, the Equal Justice Society is dedicated to fighting for constitutional safeguards against discrimination, with the goal of creating a society where “race is no longer a barrier to opportunity.” Voting rights, GLBT rights, gender equality and protecting the rights of immigrants are all priorities for EJS attorneys and supporters.
The EJS also works to combat implicit bias from racial and gender stereotypes that CTA also reveals and dispels in our training on unconscious bias.
Free Lesson Plans About Civil Rights Showdowns
To highlight the civil rights struggle, and to learn from the past to create a better future, the EJS has launched this website to promote the milestones that occurred in 1963 and after. To make students comprehend what was at stake, and why the struggles against racism still matter, educators can use these free and dynamic lesson plans for high school and middle school classrooms.
The lesson plans commemorate the 50th anniversaries of civil rights milestones looming in the 2013-2015 period. The milestones honored include the March on Washington of August 28, 1963; President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964; the signing by Johnson of the Voting Rights Act on Aug. 6, 1965; and the signing of the Immigration and Nationality Act on Oct. 3, 1965, by Johnson, at the foot of the Statue of Liberty. The EJS shares concerns about the recent and alarming U.S. Supreme Court ruling that weakens the Voting Rights Act.
With the lesson plans, students learn about affirmative action, the right to religious freedom, about the fight for racial equality in education, ballot propositions and civil rights, and other key topics.
Tell Us If You Were There in 1963 – Or Went To the March in August
Are you a California educator, active or retired, who marched in Washington in 1963? Or did you go to DC in late August for the 50th anniversary march? CTA would like to contact you for an interview. Please send your contact info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizers of the 50th commemoration activities, including the children of Dr. King, have announced several days of events in Washington, D.C. The highlights include:
- Aug. 24: March at the Washington Mall, including a “global freedom festival.”
- Aug. 25-27: Several initiatives focused on educating the next generation of youths.
- Aug. 28: Morning interfaith service at the foot of the King Memorial, including tributes from children and adults. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, there will be a “Let Freedom Ring Global Commemoration Celebration Call to Action,” followed by a “Let Freedom Ring” bell-ringing ceremony at 3 p.m. EST, with the hope that bells nationwide are rung at that time in solidarity.
Bay Area Aug. 28 Tribute held for Unsung Heroes of Civil Rights Movement
On the 50th anniversary of the Washington march, the Equal Justice Society in Oakland hosted an original theatrical event honoring the unsung heroes and heroines who powered the civil rights movement, everyday people who took a stand. The night also featured an exhibit of original art work inspired by the civil rights struggles. Acclaimed musicians, actors and dancers paid homage to those who led the early battles, and who made a contribution.
The EJS says the themes were about contributing to make a difference: “This contribution by everyday people was made through their words and ideas, dedication and hard work, and in some cases by sacrificing their lives. We should never forget that the struggle for equality in the 1960s was a war in many ways as important as the conflict abroad at the time.”
See photos from 1963 march
NEA announces activities