Aug. 28, 1963
Eight years after Emmett Till was slain, about 250,000 gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, calling for racial harmony. But the forgotten speech is the one future Congressman John Lewis delivered.
“While we stand here, there are sharecroppers in the Delta of Mississippi who are out in the fields working for less than three dollars a day, twelve hours a day. While we stand here there are students in jail on trumped-up charges. … The voting section of this bill will not help the thousands of black people who want to vote. It will not help the citizens of Mississippi, of Alabama and Georgia, who are qualified to vote, but lack a sixth-grade education. …
“We must have legislation that will protect the Mississippi sharecropper who is put off of his farm because he dares to register to vote. … What political leader can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles’? … Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington? … We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again. And then you holler, “Be patient.” How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now.”