The past week has been an education in the civil rights movement for me.
As I was researching my post on teacher/activist Septima Clark, I began reading about the March on Washington, too. For all of her work towards equality and jobs for African Americans; for all of the inspiration she offered speakers at the March like John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought: Surely Septima must have been invited to speak, too!
But I couldn’t find any record of that happening, and discovered that women’s voices were not well represented at the March overall. Here’s what I learned from The Root , Teaching Tolerance, and Democracy Now:
– There was a “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom,” but Septima Clark was not among those honored.
– Medgar Evers’s widow, Myrlie Evers, was scheduled as the speaker for the tribute to women, but
got stuck in traffic and didn’t get to speak at all had a prior speaking engagement in Boston.
– Daisy Bates was tapped to speak in Evers’s place . Her remarks were about a minute long, and she was the only woman to address the crowd during the official program.
– There were two separate marches: the men walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, and the women — including Daisy Bates and Rosa Parks — walked down Independence Avenue.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Septima Clark, and all the unsung heroines of the civil rights movement, deserve better. (Where’s Clark’s comic book??)
As a small celebration of Clark, I made two education-themed “posters” of her. Please share and enjoy!