This memorial is dedicated to the quarter of a million people of all races, religions and nationalities who, on a sweltering summer day, August 28, 1963, gathered in our nation's capital in front of the Lincoln Memorial to participate in the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Answering the call of a broad coalition of civil rights, labor and religious leaders, these foot soldiers of the civil rights movement came by bus, by train, by automobile, and some literally on foot. Together they demanded an end to racial segregation and discrimination in the United States, called for equal opportunity in employment, and by their very presence made a stride toward freedom.
One hundred years since President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery may have been abolished, but in 1863 Americans of African descent were still struggling mightily for their rights. In the process many had endured not only the indignities of everyday racial discrimination but beatings, jailings, and the powerful force of fire hoses and cattle prods aimed at them. Some had paid the ultimate price and been assassinated.
Never in the history of our nation had such a large rally for civil and human rights been held. Bringing together the famous and the foot soldiers—the
ordinary men and women whose lives symbolized the fabric of America—this nonviolent protest was televised around the world and shook the nation's conscience.
It is to these brave souls—the seamstresses, the barbers, the teachers, the ordinary people from all walks of life who chose to be present that day in 1963—that this memorial is dedicated.
While many associate the March with the stirring oratory of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in which he articulated the dream that still endures, it must be remembered that he was far from alone in the struggle, as was made abundantly clear that day. As with any movement for social change, it took the tireless efforts of countless unsung heroes to achieve progress.
Men, women and even children from points south, north, east and west descended on Washington, D.C., that day. Here in Annapolis, many foot soldiers boarded buses at the site of this memorial, carrying with them the hopes of others who could not attend but were there in spirit.
As one prominent Maryland civil rights leader Carl O. Snowden of Annapolis stated of this memorial, "This is the opportunity to be able to show another generation that it was ordinary men and women who made a rendezvous with history".
Listed here are some of the many people who attended the March. Of course, the identity of
all 250,000 or more participants will never be known, but the names that are here—whether from Annapolis, elsewhere in Maryland or elsewhere in the United States—will stand forever as a reminder of the importance of everyday people taking the steps necessary to change the course of history.
"A Luta Continua" Means The Struggle Continues
[Center plaque lists the names of the attendees]
One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of the status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions.
Today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
[Bottom of Memorial:]
Civil Rights Foot Soldiers Memorial