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Ideas

Economic equality: What the March on Washington didn’t win

Fifty years later, why we remember King and not A. Philip Randolph

Fifty years ago this Wednesday, nearly a quarter million people assembled in the nation’s capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—the formal name for a demonstration that would become a landmark event in the American quest for racial justice.

The coda to that long day of oratory and song, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, stands as one of the greatest speeches in American history, indelibly fused to our collective recollection of the march. The words and cadence of King’s speech are familiar to every schoolchild, treasured for their eloquence and what we look back on as their powerful effect. The passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which President Kennedy had proposed two months before the march, seemed to bear out the power of those dreams.

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