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The Washington march also was televised, a perspective not lost on organizers who worked long and hard to quell any plans for acts of civil disobedience, much less more aggressive actions. The marchers were, in fact, notable for dressing in their Sunday best, and for the enterprise taking on the pace of a religious procession.
Jack Wilson, who covered the march for the Minneapolis Tribune, wrote: “The single most impressive fact about the demonstration, aside from the size of the crowd, was the businesslike attitude of everyone involved.”
Eighteen days later, members of a Ku Klux Klan group hid a box of dynamite under the basement steps of a church in Birmingham, Ala. It exploded as children were assembling for the day’s sermon. Four young black girls, three 14-year-olds and one 11-year-old, were killed.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s profile soared in the wake of the march, as the events of 1963 led to more protests, more fire hoses, more police dogs, more violence. Forces were coming together as they never had before. Words that King once had spoken seemed prescient.
“Do your work so well that no one could do it better,” he had told a gathering. “Do it so well that all the hosts of Heaven and Earth will have to say, ‘Here lived a man who did his job as if God Almighty called him at this particular time in history to do it.’ ”
Kim Ode • 612-673-7185