On Sunday, August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people crowded the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to stake their claim for jobs and freedom in a turbulent America. But it was just six groups that shared the bulk of the credit for orchestrating the momentous occasion. Not one of the six emerged from the event unchanged. And now, as the March On Washington celebrates its 50th anniversary, the divergent paths of some of these organizations serve as a striking microcosm of black America in the wake of the Civil Rights movement.
The “Big Six,” as the march organizers came to be known, were the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress On Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and the National Urban League. Fifty years after the march, three of these organizations are still fighting the same battles they were in 1963, one has experienced a dramatic, rightward shift in its politics, and two have faded away entirely.
In the early 60s, though, they met on the same road, one marked by a unity forged in the oppressed state of black America in the decades preceding the Civil Rights movement. Several of the people who helped shaped these organizations spoke to The Huffington Post about the common goals their groups shared that summer in Washington -– and how the experience changed them forever.