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Gender and Race

Who Was There?

250,000 participants showed up to protest at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Of those 250,000 marchers, roughly a third of them were white. Female activists, including Dorothy Height (president of the National Council of Negro Women) and Rosa Parks, were assigned to walk alongside the wives of the male civil rights leaders, and behind the male leaders.[1]

Who was featured?

Of those asked to perform songs at the event, about half were men and half were women. Just under half of the performers were white, and the slight majority were people of color. Of the speakers at the event, there was supposed to be one female speaker, Mrs. Medgar Evers, however she was unable to arrive on time and another woman, Daisy Bates, took her spot but was not given the full two minute slot to speak. The rest of the speakers at the event were men.[2]

There was a small amount of criticism from participants at the March on Washington for having so many white performers at the event. Dick Gregory, a black comedian and writer, was one of the participants who criticized this aspect of the march, saying “What was a white boy like Bob Dylan there for?”[1]  Two of the organizers of the march were sisters Dorie and Joyce Ladner. In this interview, Joyce recalls long hours, hard work and "Bobby" Dylan hanging out in their apartment and playing guitar late into the night when the residents only wanted to go to sleep.[2]  

[1] Euchner, Nobody Turn Me Around.

[2] “The March on Washington - Civil Rights History Project - Digital Collections,” web page, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, accessed November 30, 2017,