Protest Music at the March on Washington (1963)

On August 28, 1963 the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held on the National Mall in Washington D.C., beginning at the Washington Monument and ending in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Some notable musical activists, such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Odetta, the Freedom Singers, and Peter, Paul, and Mary, led the marchers in song. Together, with the 250,000 participants, they marched and sang protest songs, unified in their cause for civil rights. Songs such as "We Shall Overcome", which originated as an African-American Hymn and was adopted into the civil rights movement,[1] were used to create solidarity between the marchers as well as reinforcing the values of the cause to those who were not already aligned with the movement.[2] This exhibit explores the intersections of gender and race amongst protest musicians of the period and the ways in which the music preserved and promoted unity amongst the oppressed.

[1] Brown, ““We’ll Walk Hand in Hand Someday” – Music and the March on Washington | In The Muse.”

[2] Dunaway, “Music and Politics in the United States.”


Created as part of the Politics of Peace & Gender course at Cleveland State University.