News Release

Interviews Available: The March on Washington

The 40th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is August 28. Events begin today in Washington, D.C. The following analysts and activists are available for interviews:

Rev. JAMES LAWSON
Pastor emeritus of Holman United Methodist Church, Lawson was a longtime associate of Martin Luther King Jr. and is available for a limited number of interviews. Though involved in the planning of the 1963 march, he did not attend it, having given his bus seat to a student. He said today: “The entire march was under pressure from the Kennedy administration. John Lewis changed his speech after pressure from the executive committee composed of the big civil rights groups. The Kennedys didn’t like mass actions. When they realized they couldn’t prevent the march, they tried to mold it, to make it more palatable to white people. I don’t think they realized that the nation was ready to take on segregation; the churches were ready, except for Southern Baptists like Jerry Falwell. The march was actually about jobs and freedom as well as civil rights; something that is overlooked. We still have not dealt with issues at a systemic level….”

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JOIA JEFFERSON-NURI
MEHDI BRAY
Jefferson-Nuri is a media contact for events this weekend. Bray is an organizer and executive director of the Muslim American Society.
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GWENDOLYN MINK
Co-editor of the just-published book Welfare: A Documentary History of U.S. Policy and Politics, Mink said today: “In 1968, the Poor People’s Campaign challenged this country to provide jobs and income to all Americans, especially for people of color who numbered disproportionately among America’s poor. In announcing the campaign in 1967, Martin Luther King called poverty a social insanity…. Thirty-five years later, we are farther from ending poverty and guaranteeing the economic security of all Americans than we were in 1968….” Mink is currently working on a book titled The End of the Democratic Party?
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ANNE KRETZMANN
Kretzmann is an organizer with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s March for Economic Human Rights, which will have events in D.C. for the next week. They intend to construct a tent city called “Bushville” on the National Mall.
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JAMES H. CONE
Author of Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare, Cone is distinguished professor of theology at the Union Theological Seminary. He said today: “King’s great speech has been distorted. America made his dream speech an optimistic symbol about itself. Americans can do that because they forget about the role of Malcolm X, who said ‘While King was having a dream, the rest of us Negroes are having a nightmare.’ In time, King would echo those words, saying ‘They have turned my dream into a nightmare.’ Now, many rightwingers love to quote King’s speech — pretending we have achieved equality while half of the 2 million people in jail today are black; while one third of blacks live in conditions comparable to Third World countries. The tragedy of the speech is not what King said, it’s how America takes this speech and makes it appear that it is moving toward justice for African Americans.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167