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The August 1963 March on Washington Through the Lens of Food, Part 2

Martin Luther King Jr. was the last of many speakers at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Deputy Director of the March Bayard Rustin spoke first sharing the 8 demands of the Marchers. Demands 6 and 7 spoke to the job situation in 1963 with strong parallel's to 2013. Six, “we demand that every person in this nation, black or white, be given training and work with dignity to defeat unemployment and automation. [Seven,] we demand that there be an increase in the national minimum wage so that men may live in dignity. In 1963, the country was in a slow, painful recovery from a recession that had begun in 1959. Jobs in manufacturing were shifting to automation, further decreasing the opportunities for employment. Industries that had produced some economic advancement for blacks in the past were slowly becoming non-existent. Additionally, blacks were barred from advancement in skilled trades due to the discriminatory practices of apprentice systems. The unemployment rate was 5.5%, one and a half million blacks were unemployed, and, although blacks made up 11% of the workforce, 22% were jobless. In response labor turned out for the march.  “Five thousand members of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union will travel in three special trains, eighteen chartered buses and several auto caravans. The union said it would supply box lunches and suppers…The International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union said it would defray transportation and food costs to move several thousand members to the capital from New York, Newark, Philadelphia, eastern Pennsylvania, Long Island, Baltimore and other points,” The New York Times reported on August  27, 1963. The paper went on to say, “each member will receive a free lunch box and free chicken box dinner.” 

Stories in the Series Feeding the Revolution with Related Recipes: http://www.foodasalens.com/search?q=Feeding+the+Revolution

Bayard Rustin’s Sandwich Brigade & the March on Washington: [Listen Now] http://wosu.org/2012/allsides/the-life-of-civil-rights-pioneer-bayard-rustin/

Fears, Food, and the 1963 March on Washington

Childhood Through the Lens of Food