Covering the Jewish Side of the March on Washington

How Forward Chronicled History-Making Civil Rights Event

That Was Then: Dr. Martin Luther King prepares for his speech at the 1963 March on Washington.
Courtesy Adas Israel Congregation via Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington
That Was Then: Dr. Martin Luther King prepares for his speech at the 1963 March on Washington.

By Forward Archives

Published August 24, 2013, issue of August 30, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

In the summer of 1963, the Forverts provided extensive coverage of civil rights news, from arrests in Louisiana to altercations between police and protestors in New York.

Reporter Y. Shmulevitz provided on the ground coverage of the March on Washington as it happened. While reporting on the events, editors Moishe Crystal and Simon Weber were among those who used their columns to support the march and detail the collaboration between black and Jewish participants, which they fervently believed would resonate with Americans in the years to come.

August 28, 1963

“What The March On Washington Seeks To Achieve”

By Simon Weber

Negroes want the same things other people want — respect, to be valued, opportunities to develop and they must be considered as individuals.

With regard to the march on Washington all the various currents of Negro lives united around the demonstration, as have most liberal groups in the general population.

forward

August 30, 1963

“Impressions From The March On Washington”

By Y. Shmulevitz

The Jewish voice and Jewish sensibilities were expressed during the moving speeches and prayers at the Lincoln Memorial, in the placards and also amidst the crowds of people.

The organizers of the great ‘march on Washington’ owe a great debt to the current organized labor movement. Untold unions were at the demonstration and gave unquestioned support for the Negro demands for their rights. Organized union groups could be seen throughout the march holding posters and it made a strong impression. One felt the American labor movement had decided to intercede on behalf of the Negroes.

The majority of Jewish participants were from the working classes, found in the rows of the so-called ‘Jewish’ unions, and also among the crowds of locals of the general labor movement.

In general, over 10 percent Whites participated in the march, people of all creeds, backgrounds and from all manner of social classes. There was a rare fraternal sense of solidarity between Whites and Negroes, during the demonstration. So why should Jews be absent?

Their behavior was extremely respectful — there was not one inopportune outcry, not one unwelcome expression. The struggle and its demands were left in the hands of the leadership to display. It only took one call of ‘dignity, please’ on the microphone by 74-year-old Philip Randolph, leader of the massive ‘March on Washington,’ president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping-Car Porters, and the only Negro member of the executive council of the AFL-CIO, for the masses to heed his call.

August 31, 1963

“The Significance of The March On Washington”

By Moishe Crystal

The March will, regardless, go down in history as the most powerful demonstrations of moral ascent and humane virtue.

The Jewish side of things was very apparent and impactful in their participation in Washington. Dr. Joachim Prinz of American Jewish Congress spoke meaningfully of his experience as a rabbi in Hitler’s Germany where he learned that it’s not hatred nor hypocrisy that are the worst problems but rather the most serious tragedy and most shameful problem is silence in the face of mass murder.

The struggle the Negroes have begun for their rights here in this country has to a large degree evolved into a conflict about a moral revivification which can even spread beyond the borders of America.

[King’s] speech was so powerful it will, in time, become apparent that anytime the phrase ‘I have a dream’ is used — Dr. King will be referenced.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.