WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 1963 (UPI) - To catch the philosophy behind the march on Washington, you have to go back several months to two men, A. Philip Randolph and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Randolph, one of the silver-tongued orators of the integration movement for more than half a century, wanted an early summer demonstration in the nation's capital top publicize the Negro's appeal for better jobs.
At first, Randolph's idea was only that. It appeared for a while it would not get off the ground. Then King stepped into the picture. The leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference proposed that Negroes join forces in a demonstration for "jobs and freedom."
After several changes in proposed dates, Aug. 28 was nailed down and Wednesday's expression was the result. What did Negroes really hope to accomplish?
Reduced to simplest terms, Randolph, King, Roy Wilkins of the N.A.A.C.P. and others have put it this way: They hoped to demonstrate with "our bodies" by the thousands that Negroes are united in the integration movement. The extent to which today's demonstration could put over that point will be the measure of its success or failure.
"This is a concrete expression from the grass roots," Wilkins said in an interview. "This is not King and Wilkins interpreting. These are the people, all in one place in person, saying to the government that they have given up their pay for a day or two and that they have lost sleep and comforts to come to Washington to say they want first class citizenship."
Wilkins added that if he were a member of Congress, which is now considering civil rights legislation, he could not consider the appeal "purely routine."
The march was intended to answer once and for all the often repeated accusations in some parts of the country that the "normal pattern" of racial peace is being upset only by the influx of "outside agitators."
This charge, principally in the south (although it is sometimes heard in other sections of the country), is particularly obnoxious to some of the leaders of the march.
Groups such as King's S.C.L.C., the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, all have helped organize and run scores of local demonstrations. They say it is done at the request of local citizens.
James Farmer, the C.O.R.E. leader, missed the Washington march because he was in jail in the little town of Plaquemine, La., for helping in demonstrations there.
Leaders also hope the march will serve to weld the various integration groups together and to unite them with white organizations. Four out of 10 of the marchers were expected to be white.
Whatever else the march accomplishes, it will enjoy fantastic world-wide coverage, including a television program bounced off Telstar.
A spokesman for Columbia Broadcasting System, which handled the main TV pool operations for the march, said it was the biggest television operation ever done outside a studio in the country. At least 40 TV cameras were aimed at the proceedings.
Deputy Police Chief Howard V. Covell told a news briefing that until the current event he had issued about 1,200 police department press badges in his 33 years in the department.
For this one story, we have issued 1,537 passes and I have been advised to get 500 more printed," he said.