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Remembering ‘the Dream,’ 57 Years Later

On Aug. 28, 1963, some 250,000 people gathered in the nation’s capital for the March on Washington

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew some 250,000 people to the nation’s capital in a clarion call for racial justice. The event, culminating with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, pressured the administration of President John F. Kennedy to initiate a federal civil rights bill that his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed into law the following year.

On the 57th anniversary of the march that set the standard for anti-racist demonstrations, a renewed call for justice is echoing across the country following the murders of George FloydBreonna TaylorTony McDadeSean ReedYassin MohamedAhmaud ArberyRayshard Brooks and so many others.

In honor of the historic 1963 event and the current, ongoing demonstrations for racial justice, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and King’s son, Martin Luther King III, are leading a new “Get Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington today. The organizers are asking demonstrators – not only in Washington but also around the country – to renew their fight for fairness and equity in the policing and criminal justice systems. Learn more about today’s March on Washington here.

Lead photo by Marion S. Trikosko/Library of Congress

More than 250,000 people gathered along the National Mall as part of the March on Washington in 1963. In honor of the event’s 57th anniversary and the current, ongoing demonstrations for racial justice, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, Martin Luther King III, are leading a new “Get Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington today.

Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists lead fellow demonstrators at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. The organizers of the march selected Aug. 28 for the historic event in honor of the date that Emmett Till was murdered. 

MediaPunch Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington. The event included King delivering his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

American Photo Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Marchers carry signs for equal rights, integrated schools, decent housing and an end to racism. Today, the March on Washington continues to inspire people to continue the fight for fairness and equity.

Warren Leffler/Library of Congress

Civil rights leaders meet with President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office of the White House after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The following year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law. 

Warren Leffler/Library of Congress

Thousands of marchers walk to the Lincoln Memorial on Connecticut Avenue during the March on Washington. Fifty-seven years later, there’s a renewed call for racial justice across the country.

Flip Schulke Archives/Getty Images

Marchers arrive at Union Station for the March on Washington in 1963. The demonstration, which concluded with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, attracted a quarter of a million people to the nation’s capital.

Marion S. Trikosko

Some 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. The march pressured federal lawmakers to pass civil rights legislation and set the standard for anti-racist demonstrations. 

Warren Leffler/Library of Congress

Marchers carry signs demanding justice and equity on an array of issues during the 1963 March on Washington. Today, 57 years after the historic march, the event continues to inspire people pursuing racial justice.  

Marion S. Trikosko

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. listens at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. A year later, federal civil rights legislation would be signed into law.

MediaPunch Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The event was a clarion call for racial justice.

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The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd of demonstrators outside the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington.

Francis Miller/Getty Images