APRIL 18, 1959

About 26,000 students took part in the Youth March for Integrated Schools in Washington, D.C. They heard speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., A. Phillip Randolph and NAACP leader Roy Wilkins. 

In advance of the march, some critics hurled false accusations that Communists had infiltrated the group. In response, the civil rights leaders put out a statement: “The sponsors of the March have not invited Communists or communist organizations. Nor have they invited members of the Ku Klux Klan or the White Citizens’ Council. We do not want the participation of these groups, nor of individuals or other organizations holding similar views.” 

After the march, a delegation of students went to present their demands to President Eisenhower, only to be told by his deputy assistant that “the president is just as anxious as they are to see an America where discrimination does not exist, where equality of opportunity is available to all.” 

King praised the students, saying, “In your great movement to organize a march for integrated schools, you have awakened on hundreds of campuses throughout the land a new spirit of social inquiry to the benefit of all Americans.”

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.