Press/Journalists

Press Release
August 13, 2013

The National Archives Marks 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

Remembered with special document display, program and screenings

Washington, DC…The National Archives marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with a featured display of an iconic image from the march, a special program and film screenings of THE MARCH, James Blue’s 1964 film that documents this event.

The display and programs are free and open to the public, and will be held at National Archives Building in Washington, DC, which is located on the National Mall and is fully accessible. For programs in the William G. McGowan Theater, attendees should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue at 7th Street, NW.

Featured Display:
East Rotunda Gallery from August 20th through September 9th, 2013
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the National Archives presents an iconic photograph of a young girl, Edith Lee, who celebrated her twelfth birthday by attending the March on Washington with her mother. This photograph, taken by a photographer hired by a Federal government agency, especially captured the spirit of the marchers and has become emblematic of the day.

More than forty-five years later, after hearing that a photograph of her at the march was reproduced in a calendar, Edith Lee-Payne visited the National Archives and discovered her photograph among records of the United States Information Agency. The display includes a contemporary image of Edith Lee-Payne at the National Archives viewing this photo. Ms. Lee-Payne still has her treasured banner from the march.

Ms. Lee-Payne’s incredible story is shown in a 3:05 minute video short produced by the National Archives, online on the National Archives YouTube channel at [http://tiny.cc/MLKmarch]. Also appearing in the video is National Archives Supervisory Archivist Ed McCarter and photographer Rowland Scherman, working for the United States Information Agency (USIA), who took this iconic photograph. The audio and video portions of this film featuring Rowland Scherman were recorded by Chris Szwedo and were used with his permission. Those portions of the film are copyrighted by Mr. Szwedo and are not in the public domain.

FROM THE VAULTS FILM SCREENINGS: THE MARCH
August 26, 27 & 28 at noon, William G. McGowan Theater
To mark this important anniversary, the National Archives Film Preservation Lab completed a full digital restoration of the James Blue’s 1964 film, The March, produced for the U.S. Information Agency. Using Blue’s original negatives, staff restored defects in the image and enhanced the audio track – a process that took more than three months. The March documents the event from its preparations through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech. (40 minutes.) The newly restored version will be posted on the National Archives YouTube channel on August 26. Use of the film may require permission from the King Foundation, due to the rights claimed by the King Family for the use of King's image and the copyright on the "I Have A Dream Speech."

FEATURED PROGRAM:  Let Freedom Ring: Stanley Tretick’s Iconic Images of the March on Washington
Thursday, September 12, at 7 p.m., William G. McGowan Theater
On August 28, 1963, despite searing heat, over 250,000 people from all corners of the country marched on our nation’s capital. In the shadow of the Washington Monument, all the marchers shared the same dream: equality for the nearly 20 million African Americans living in the United States. This moment in time is recorded by Stanley Tretick’s never-before-published photos of that day, now released in a new book accompanied by author Kitty Kelley’s poignant text. Joining Kitty Kelley on stage will be journalist Soledad O’Brien and Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children's Defense Fund and March on Washington participant. The program will include photos projected on screen and vocal performances by Garrick Jordan. A book signing will follow the program.

March on Washington 50th anniversary programming at the National Archives is made possible in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives through the generous support of Texas Instruments.

Background

Fifty years ago this month, on August 28, 1963, a high point in the long pursuit of African American civil rights took place in Washington, DC. Organized by a coalition of civil rights, religious, and labor organizations, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew hundreds of thousands of participants in support of President John F. Kennedy’s proposed civil rights bill. Organizers included A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Recordings of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech that day have helped it become one of the best-remembered speeches in American history and a lasting symbol of the event.

Online Resources

The National Archives has extensive holdings from the March on Washington, and highlights are online [http://tinyurl.com/NARAMLK50]

The National Archives is fully accessible, and Assisted Listening Devices are available in the McGowan Theater upon request. To request a sign language interpreter for a public program, please send an email to public.program@nara.gov or call 202-357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event. To verify dates and times of the programs, call 202-357-5000 or view the Calendar of Events online. To contact the National Archives, please call 1-866-272-6272 or 1-86-NARA-NARA (TDD 301-837-0482).

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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