March on Washington Anniversary

As the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of The March on Washington draws near, today I was provided with an opportunity to reflect on the First Amendment.  I’m in DC for the annual conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).  The conference swings into full gear tomorrow.  So I capitalized on some free time today and made my way over to the Newseum.  Absolutely awesome!  That’s the kind of place that, when I retire, I’d love to work there as a volunteer!

Along with their permanent displays, they’ve got an exhibit on The Civil Rights Movement.  One image really captured my attention.




How TRUE!  In producing this documentary it’s been fascinating to learn some of the logistics that unfolded behind the scenes. For our documentary about the March on Washington, we interviewed 5 historians.  Many of them spoke about the role of the media, specifically television, as it relates to The March.  This was the first major march to be covered live on TV.  That fact did not go unnoticed by March organizers!  Unlike previous Marches in DC where the focus was on the movement of people – actual marching – in The March on Washington the focus was less on movement and more on one static spot – the steps of The Lincoln Memorial! This was not by accident. And they exercised strict control over the signs they allowed people to carry.  If you see color photos from the day, you’ll notice they’re all Red, White, and Blue!


And it should be noted that lessons learned from The March in 1963 carried over to future marches.

So The March was not just an exercise in democracy.  It was also an example of brilliant event planning and message coordination.