139. Potomac Cable From the United States Information Agency1

No. 267


Many thousands of Americans will march in Washington August 28 to call on the U.S. Congress for a redress of grievances.2 Their goal: the rapid realization of the long-standing national ideal of equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, regardless of race.

The march will support legislation to protect and strengthen equal rights and opportunities in a variety of fields where, despite much progress, racial discrimination still exists. In its proposed “Civil Rights Act of 1963,”3 the Kennedy Administration has asked Congress to pass such legislation. President Kennedy and Congressional leaders of both major political parties will receive the leaders of the march.

The demonstration will assemble citizens of all races and from many states, both North and South. Among them will be representatives of organizations heading the drive for equal rights, of the major religious faiths, of the trade union movement, and of many socially conscious interracial groups. Members of the Administration, of Congress, of state and municipal governments will take part.

Representing a broad cross-section of national sentiment, the marchers will exercise the right of peaceful assembly and of petition to promote the cause of other civil rights. The march will demonstrate the confidence of citizens both Negro and white that the objectives of equal rights and opportunities can be realized through the democratic process. It will also illustrate the determination of many Americans, white and Negro, to complete the task of realizing a basic U.S. principle—that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one are threatened.

Realistically, most Americans understand that neither Presidential orders, nor Federal or state legislation, nor court rulings—nor any combination of those three forms of action—can eliminate entirely all [Page 362] vestiges of prejudice. In the words of Gunnar Myrdal,4 the eminent Swedish sociologist:

“Prejudice itself is slow to disappear, though its legal and institutional retaining walls are crumbling. There is still a long road to travel before America becomes, in fact, the egalitarian country of its creed. But in historical perspective the rapidity of progress is astonishing.”5

The August 28 march will dramatize the majority U.S. will to move over more rapidly toward the national egalitarian ideal.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of Policy, General Subject Files, 1949–1970; Acc. #66–Y–0274, Entry UD WW 382, Box 117, Master Copies 1963. Unclassified. Drafted by Gausmann and Pauker. Approved by Sorensen. Pauker initialed for himself and Gausmann; Anderson initialed for Sorensen. Sent via Wireless File.
  2. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on August 28 and was led by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 136.
  4. Myrdal was a Swedish sociologist and Nobel Laureate economist who researched and wrote extensively about race relations in the United States.
  5. The quote is from Myrdal’s An American Dilemma published in 1944.