What was the short-term significance of martin Luther King after the march on Washington?
On the 27th of august 1963, the March on Washington took place; its main purpose was to raise awareness of jobs and treatment of African Americans during the 1960s in particular. The event was officially called ‘The march on Washington for jobs and freedom’, involved where the six biggest civil rights groups . The march led 250,000 campaigners through the capital and to the Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King (MLK) performed his iconic ‘I have a dream speech’. This quickly became one of the most iconic moments in history, particularly during the civil rights movement. This reputation was helped by the march being the largest political rally in the history of the United States, further giving the march, and those speaking including king more influence on the treatment of black Americans for the rest of the twentieth century. In particular, Martin Luther King’s words energized the fight for equality. He was one of the most established freedom fighters during this time, looking for integration into a predominantly white driven American society. Furthermore he was helped by the work of his own group called the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) . However, others accommodate the opinion that Kings short-term influence was minimal, and he in fact did nothing to help the treatment of African Americans twenty years after his speech at the march on Washington.
I believe that the most compelling argument that can be made for the short-term influence of MLK is the passing of the civil rights bill of 1964. President L. B. Johnson himself proclaimed the importance of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington in bringing about the civil rights act of ’64. When talking to MLK about his march and the civil rights bill, Johnson says, ‘’I think the greatest achievement in foreign policy – I said to a group yesterday – was the passing of the 1964 civil rights act.’’ Johnson said this directly to MLK in order to make him recognise how much of an effect his march had upon changing employment law in the US. The civil rights bill of 1964 meant that employers were legally obligated to pick the best candidate for a job regardless of their colour, race or sex . Before the bill was passed, black Americans found it increasingly hard to find employment due to employers discriminating them, causing sit ins and marches such as the one in Washington which made known the problems that they faced, to the world. This was one of the main reasons that the march on Washington took place, which shows on a political level, its major significance. The reliability of this source is very strong because it can be said that Johnson would have wanted to look sympathetic upon Black Americans in order to gain their support, and therefore would want to support their movements. The support of African Americans would have been significant for the 1964 presidential elections taking place on November 3th, which he won with one of the largest landslide victories in American history . An account from a black American called Mr Manley, who participated in the March, further cements the idea that King had a great significance in passing the civil rights bill. It reads, ‘’I believe it electrified the country…we felt a warm surge of pride when Dr King addressed the crowds.’’ Although it does not mention the civil rights bill, it talks of the effect that Kings ‘I have a dream’ speech had on spurring the civil rights movement on, ultimately putting pressure on congress. The source talks of electrifying the country, showing how there was almost an immediate significance of Kings Speech in the march on Washington, as does the quote from L. B. Johnson. This would have helped racial discrimination overall by effecting even those that were not Black Americans, which would have also played a big part in reducing overall racial discrimination due to that fact the majority of the American population where white. So by getting them to sympathise with the cause, more relevant changes such as the civil rights bill would have been made, proving how after the march on Washington, Kings short term significance was overwhelmingly obvious.