The commanding view all the way to the Washington Monument never fails to impress visitors, who can imagine the space filled by the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people who heard the speech that day. Most of us give formal speeches, talks and presentations in conference rooms, hotel ballrooms, auditoriums. There are few speeches for which the location's marked in this way. If you're curious, look on the landing below Lincoln's statue at the Lincoln Memorial; you'll find the marker of the spot where King stood 18 steps down.
For women, the lack of women speakers at this historic event--there was just one, who did not speak at length--reflected the low status of women in the civil rights era. Women of the movement even marched separately from the men as they approached the Lincoln Memorial. Rosa Parks, arguably the most famous woman in the movement, was merely mentioned in a "tribute to the ladies" speech given by a man, put on the program only after it was noted that no women were speaking. The March on Washington Twitter account has been tweeting historic facts about the march, including the omission of women speakers and some of the discussion about that during the planning of the march.
African-American basketball player Maya Moore says in this appreciation of the speech, "That speech is one that captures humanity, no matter where you're from, no matter what you look like." You can read more about the march right here on the blog:
- "I Have a Dream" speechwriter shares tales of famous speech reports on a book about how that speech came together, and the negotiations about who would speak when.
- How the dedication of the MLK Memorial included a tribute to women ignored in the civil rights era looks at an effort to make up for the oversights of that day.
- Our Famous Speech Friday post on Myrlie Evers-Williams' invocation at the second inagural of President Barack Obama describes a speech that took place earlier this year, at the other end of the National Mall in Washington, from a woman who's said to have been invited to speak at the March, but did not.
- Josephine Baker, the lone woman to speak that day, is featured in this Famous Speech Friday post.
- You also can read more about Rosa Parks and how she was silenced several times when her visibility was highest in "You've said enough:" The missing speaker's voice of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
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