March on Washington | St. Louis Public Radio

March on Washington

(via Wikimedia Commons / U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)

In the summer of 1963, hundreds of thousands across the nation converged on Washington, D.C. to march for jobs and freedom.

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, local civil rights activists were gearing up for a demonstration of their own: a picket line and sit-in at Jefferson Bank, also calling for equal employment for African Americans. Despite being located in an African American neighborhood, the only African Americans employed by the bank worked as janitors.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The summer of 1963 was a pivotal time for race relations in the United States. On Aug. 28, in the nation’s capital, more than 200,000 people gathered in a unified call for racial equality. They listened to speeches. They sang songs. They prayed. Although President John F. Kennedy had summoned the National Guard as a security measure, the event was peaceful, as people, black and white, joined together in a call for change.

Government photo

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Dozens of demonstrations have taken place in the nation’s capital over the years, but none matched the symbolism and impact of the one staged 50 years ago this month. Organized by labor leader A. Philip Randolph, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew up to 250,000 people to the Lincoln Memorial.