The March on Washington (video/tasks)

The march on Washington DC in 1963 is remembered today as a defining moment in the Civil Rights movement. It assembled over 200,000 people (mostly African Americans) in a peaceful demonstration in favour of a proposed bill that in effect would end segregation. The Civil Rights Bill, first introduced by President John F. Kennedy, was passed the following year by President Lyndon B. Johnson. (Kennedy had since been assassinated.) The bill met stiff opposition in Congress, especially from representatives from the southern states.

 

Tasks

  1.  Why is Abraham Lincoln mentioned and why is his statue shown at the beginning of the film?

  2. The commentary states that the police had “little to do but keep dissident groups away from the rally”. What do you think these dissident groups would have against the main demonstration?

  3. The song “We shall overcome” is heard several times during the film. It was originally a Gospel song, but in the 1950s and 60s it became the anthem of the Civil Rights movement. Why do you think the song became so popular? What effect does it have on you when you hear it?

 

Here are the lyrics:

We shall overcome, we shall overcome

We shall overcome someday

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday

 

We'll walk hand in hand, we'll walk hand in hand

We'll walk hand in hand someday

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday

 

We shall live in peace, we shall live in peace

We shall live in peace someday

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday

 

We shall brothers be, we shall brothers be

We shall brothers be someday

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday

 

The truth shall make us free, truth shall make us free

The truth shall make us free someday

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday

 

We are not afraid, we are not afraid

We are not afraid today

Oh deep in my heart, I do believe

That we shall overcome someday.