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They envisioned several large marches during the 1940s, but all were called off (despite criticism from Rustin).
Their Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, held at the Lincoln Memorial on May 17, 1957, featured key leaders including Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King Jr., and Roy Wilkins. 1963 also marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.
To avoid being perceived as radical, organizers rejected support from Communist groups.
However, some politicians claimed that the March was Communist-inspired, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) produced numerous reports suggesting the same. Sullivan produced a lengthy report on August 23 suggesting that Communists had failed to appreciably infiltrate the civil rights movement, FBI Director J. They promoted the march by selling buttons, featuring two hands shaking, the words "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom", a union bug, and the date August 28, 1963.
They wanted to focus on joblessness and to call for a public works program that would employ blacks.
In early 1963 they called publicly for "a massive March on Washington for jobs".
Violent confrontations broke out in the South: in Cambridge, Maryland; Pine Bluff, Arkansas; Goldsboro, North Carolina; Somerville, Tennessee; Saint Augustine, Florida; and across Mississippi.
March organizers themselves disagreed over the purpose of the march.
Others argued that the movement should remain nationwide in scope, rather than focus its energies on the nation's capital. Kennedy invited African-American novelist James Baldwin, along with a large group of cultural leaders, to a meeting in New York to discuss race relations.
However, the meeting became antagonistic, as black delegates felt that Kennedy did not have a full understanding of the race problem in the nation.
Members of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference put aside their differences and came together for the march.
Many whites and blacks also came together in the urgency for change in the nation.