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March on Washington Quiz Answers



1. Was the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom the first national demonstration in Washington, D.C. led by civil rights organizations?

Answer: a. No, there were multiple national demonstrations by civil rights organizations in Washington, D.C.

changing_548 aphiliprandolph2 marchWash Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 1.25.00 AM

A. Philip Randolph founded the March on Washington Movement, a movement that was started in the early 1940s with the aim of integrating the arms manufacturing industry during World War II. Members of the March on Washington Movement planned for a national demonstration in Washington, D.C. in 1941, but called it off after President Roosevelt issued an executive order banning segregation in the arms industry.

In October of 1958, 10,000 people marched in Washington, D.C. as part of the Youth March for Integrated Schools. Harry Belafonte, renowned performer and activist, lead a group of students during the march to picket at the White House. They intended to speak with President Eisenhower, but were denied access and instead left behind a list of demands for the president.

The following year another national youth march was organized, this time bringing out 26,000 people. Key organizers included Martin Luther King, Jr. Jackie Robinson, Ruth Bunche, Daisy Bates, Roy Wilkins, and Charles Zimmerman.

More information

history Youth March for Integrated Schools, article online at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research & Education Institute.Letter (1959) to Student Leaders re Youth March, online on the website.March on Washington Movement, article online at on the Prize: No Easy Walk. Video online.Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett (Johnson, 2007).


2. How long did it take to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom?

Answer: d. Two months

bus_to_WashingtonThe formal plans for the march were made in just two months. The original plan for the March on Washington was outlined by organizer Bayard Rustin in January of 1963. Throughout the spring of 1963, more and more organizations pledged their support for the March, including the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Initially, two of the largest civil rights organizations, the NAACP and the Urban League, didn’t support the March.

It wasn’t until July 2, less than two months before the date of the march, that six of the major civil rights organizations met and agreed to organize the March together. The success of the March is due to Bayard Rustin’s skills as an organizer combined with decades of grassroots organizing in the Civil Rights Movement.

25411.previewFifteen hundred community based organizations—churches, unions, women’s groups, youth groups, and other civil rights organizations—helped to organize, recruit, arrange transportation, and raise funds for the March on Washington. At least 50,000 participants were brought by churches alone and unions brought almost as many.

The participation of roughly 250,000 people was a product of countless community based and national organizations.

More information

9780393082852_March on Washington_040313.inddThe March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights by William P. Jones (Norton, 2013).

This is the Day: The March on Washington, photographs by Leonard Freed. Text by Michael Eric Dyson, Julian Bond, and Paul Farber. (Getty Publications, 2013).

Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, photo archives.



3. Which of the following was not one of the demands of the March on Washington?

Answer: b. An end to police violence and vigilante terrorism against Civil Rights protesters

25399.previewDespite the police and vigilante violence against non-violent civil rights demonstrators, especially in the South, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom did not call for an end to the violence and brutality against protesters. Many of the demands were oriented on economics, including a minimum wage act and jobs for the unemployed. One of the main organizers of the March on Washington, who was also the founder of the March on Washington Movement, A. Philip Randolph, was a labor leader who helped found the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Organizers also knew that even with civil rights, to be truly equal with whites in American, African Americans needed access to jobs, education, housing, and health care. In addition to the churches, religious organizations, and civil rights organizations involved in the March, the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and the Negro American Labor Council sponsored and helped organize the March.

More Information

A. Philip Randolph Institute

The full list of demands of the March on Washington.

The Unknown Origins of the March on Washington: Civil Rights Politics and the Black Working Class, article online by William P. Jones in Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Volume 7, Issue 3.



4. Daisy Bates, a NAACP organizer in Little Rock, Arkansas, was one of two women to speak at the 1963 March on Washington. Who was the second female speaker?

Answer: d. Josephine Baker, singer, dancer, and member of the French Resistance

From left to right: Daisy Bates, Diane Nash Bevel, Rosa Parks, Gloria Richardson

From left to right: Daisy Bates, Diane Nash Bevel, Rosa Parks, Gloria Richardson

The original program for the March on Washington included NAACP organizer and wife of Medgar Evers, Myrlie Evers. Medgar Evers was a field organizer for the NAACP and was murdered earlier that summer on June 12 in Jackson, Mississippi. Bayard Rustin gave the tribute to “Negro Women Fighters for Freedom” in her place and then allowed Daisy Bates to give a few words: “Mr. Randolph, friends, the women of this country [inaudible] our pledge to you, to Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins and all of you fighting for civil liberties—that we will join hands with you as women of this country. Rosa Gregg, Vice President; Dorothy Height, the National Council of Negro Women; and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the Methodist Church Women, all the women pledge that we will join hands with you.

Josephine Baker at the March on Washington, 1963

Josephine Baker at the March on Washington, 1963

We will kneel-in; we will sit-in until we can eat in any corner in the United States. We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit-on and we will kneel-in and we will lie-in if necessary until every Negro in America can vote.This we pledge to the women of America.” (source)

Martin Luther King, Jr. and other organizers agreed to let Josephine Baker give some opening remarks before the start of the program. Josephine Baker was born in the United States but had moved to France becoming a singer and dancer of international fame. During the German occupation of France, Baker assisted the Free French movement as a spy and courier for the resistance to the Nazis. During the 1950s she was an avid supporter of the Civil Rights Movement, from abroad, and returned in 1963 to speak at the March on Washington, wearing the French military uniform she was awarded for her work with the French resistance.

More information

freedom_plow-264x400Josephine Baker’s full speech on

Audio and transcription of Daisy Bates’ comments

Hands On the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC edited by Faith S. Holsaert, Martha Prescod Norman Noonan, Judy Richardson, Betty Garman Robinson, Jean Smith Young, and Dorothy M. Zellner (2010, University of Illinois Press).



5. The main organizer of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, has been omitted from much of the Civil Rights Movement’s history for which of the following reasons:

Answer: d. All of the above.

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Bayard Rustin at blackboard. Click on image for collection of photos and primary documents from the Rustin Estate.

Bayard Rustin was a lifelong activist and political organizer. When Bayard was a child, his family was politically active in the NAACP and organized against Jim Crow. When Rustin went to college in New York City in the 1930s, he joined the Youth Communist League and organized with the campaign to free the Scottsboro Boys. Rustin later joined the Religious Society of Friends, or the Quakers, and joined the pacifist organization the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

During World War II Rustin, a pacifist, refused induction into the military and served two years in prison as a result. Rustin was also a gay man and when his sexual orientation was revealed, he was fired from his position at FOR. Rustin then began working with the War Resisters League and went on to help organize the Montgomery bus boycott and the March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr.

For roughly six decades Bayard Rustin organized and protested against injustice. His life is a testament to millions of Americans’ hopes and dreams for peace and justice. But despite his amazing work in the Civil Rights Movement, he is often neglected from the history because he had been a Communist, a war resister, and because he was gay.

More information

We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin
 by By Larry Dane Brimner. (Calkins Creek, 2007). For middle school.Pacifism and the American Civil Rights Movement: A Celebration of the Centennial of Bayard Rustin (1912-2012). Primary documents and photos online.Brother Outsider, documentary film about the life of Bayard Rustin.I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin’s Life in Letters edited by Michael G Long. (City Light Books, 2012).



6. Which well known black leader attended the March on Washington but neither spoke nor is well known as having attended?

Answer: b. Malcolm X

0407_malcolm-x-person-500x387Malcolm X was the charismatic leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI) who advocated black self-determination. Elijah Muhammad, the head of the NOI, forbade members of the NOI from attending the March of Washington and Malcolm X called it the “farce on Washington.” Despite Elijah Muhammad’s orders, Malcolm X attended the March on Washington, speaking to the press about his opposition to the March, but also speaking in private with a number of civil rights leaders. W.E.B. DuBois, the African American intellectual leader and founder of the NAACP, died the night before the March on Washington in Ghana.

More information

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable. (Penguin, 2011).

Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. (Grove Press, 1965).




7. Was this the first time Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech invoking his now famous phrase “I Have a Dream?”

Answer: c. No, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a similar speech in Detroit two months earlier declaring, “I Have a Dream.”

23 Jun 1963, Detroit, Michigan, USA --- Martin Luther King Jr Leading March in Detroit --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBISOn June 23, 1963, roughly two months before the March on Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at the Walk to Freedom in Detroit, Michigan. The Walk to Freedom was the largest civil rights demonstration to date with 125,000 people marching for an end to police brutality and segregation in the South and for access to housing, education, and better wages in the North. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his first “I Have a Dream Speech,” saying:

“I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere that their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job. Yes, I have a dream this afternoon that one day in this land the words of Amos will become real and ‘justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”

More information

The Speech_frontFull transcript, online, of Martin Luther Kings, Jr.’s speech at the March on Washington.

The Speech: The Story Behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream by Gary Younge (Haymarket Press, 2013).




8. How was the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) involved in the March on Washington?

Answer: b. They collected information, spied on civil rights leaders (including Martin Luther King, Jr.), and spread disinformation.

FBIThe FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, began gathering information on civil rights leaders as early as 1961 when activists started embarking on Freedom Rides. After the March on Washington, in the fall of 1963, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy approved wiretaps on all of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s telephones. The FBI even wrote threatening letters to King and attempted with the aim of getting King to step down from his position as the head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

James W. Loewen notes in Lies My Teacher Told Me: “In August 1963 Hoover initiated a campaign to destroy Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. With the approval of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, he tapped the telephones of King’s associates, bugged King’s hotel rooms, and made tape recordings of King’s conversations with and about women. The FBI then passed on the lurid details, including photographs, transcripts, and tapes, to Sen. Strom Thurmond and other white supremacists, reporters, labor leaders, foundation administrators, and, of course, the president…King wasn’t the only target: Hoover also passed on disinformation about the Mississippi Summer Project; other civil rights organizations such as CORE and SNCC; and other civil rights leaders, including Jesse Jackson.”

More information

National Security Archive

MDAH Sovereignty Commission Archive

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong  by James W. Loewen (Touchstone, 2007).




9. Organizers of the March on Washington asked which speaker to leave out some of the radical content from their speech?

Answer: c. John Lewis, Chairman, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

lewis.youngSome of the organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom were critical of John Lewis’ speech. John Lewis was the Chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a youth civil rights organization that was on the frontlines of resisting Jim Crow in the South. Many members of SNCC helped write the initial speech John Lewis was going to give.

Some of the organizers of the March on Washington were uncomfortable with some of the radical content of Lewis’ speech and asked him to change it. The original speech included reference to the “black masses,” “revolution,” and called the Kennedy administration’s Civil Rights bill “too little, too late.” John Lewis agreed to make changes in his speech and in the end gave an altered version of his original speech.

More information

Full text of the original version of John Lewis’ speech

Full text of the edited version of John Lewis’ speech

Eyes on the Prize: No Easy Walk. Video online.

CRT-back-to-quizQuiz and answer sheet prepared by volunteers Tristan Brosnan and Elizabeth Behrens, and Teaching for Change staff.
Please email Teaching for Change with corrections and/or additions.