Today the March on Washington celebrates its 50th year in U.S. history, as one of our nation's largest - and most effective - political rallies for widespread socio-economic change. To commemorate the date, NPR and Member Stations are taking a "then and now" look at the March's legacy with the special series The Summer of '63 and live coverage of today's ceremony on your local station or at npr.org.
Crowds gather in front of the Washington Monument during the "March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom" in 1963.
Crowds gather in front of the Washington Monument during the "March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom" in 1963. AP
The series takes a holistic approach to understanding the original impetus behind that restless summer, and its reach across five decades of similar struggles: from interviews with both witnesses to the mid-century movement and modern figureheads for progress; to the role of food and music as tools for change (and, yes, soul-stirring playlists); to innovative social media call-outs designed to spark new dialogue with listeners, through a lens of the past.
Throughout today's anniversary, check in with us to discover never-before-told stories, inspiring multimedia explorations of events old and new and how you can contribute to this ongoing story surrounding the pursuit of the American Dream.
Can't recall the details of 1963, or weren't born yet? NPR's Code Switch has compiled moments from that pivotal summer using a modern twist: Twitter. Browse @todayin1963 for news reports, photos and quotes tweeted in real time as they happened in 1963.
Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a commemorative march at the National Mall. Code Switch lead blogger Gene Demby was onsite live-tweeting and capturing reactions from modern day March-goers:
geedee215: Among the locals, an old voting rights issue kept popping up. #MOW2013
The Race Card Project
What was it like to travel north to Washington, D.C., as a southern black man in 1963? Who are the participants that stood on the National Mall in the August heat to witness history? NPR special correspondent Michele Norris hears from attendees of the 1963 March, and extracts their thoughts on race relations in America then and now through The Race Card Project's six-word essays. Norris spoke with Edith Lee-Payne, who's 12 year-old face was immortalized in an iconic photo from the March on Washington, about how she found out decades later that her image had been used to tell the history of the civil rights movement.
The Picture Show
Stories from The Race Card Project come to life through this flashback audio-visual experiment that pulls from real archival materials from witnesses of the 1963 March.
The Picture Show's Chloe Coleman was also at the National Mall this weekend. See new and returning faces she captured throughout the day. Coleman writes:
Dr. Josephine Ball was in her 30s when she attended the 1963 March. "I knew what I was getting into and definitely wanted to be here," Bell says. "I've been fighting for rights all my life."
Tell Me More
What are the key components in past, present and future civil rights movements? Tell Me More host Michel Martin led a discussion with two prominent political players: Michael Steele, former RNC chairman, and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile. Martin also teamed up with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a Twitter forum exploring the critical role that education plays in patterns of social change. During Martin's interview with athlete and attendee of the 1963 March John Tatum, he spoke about what Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream meant to him then, and how it speaks to him now.
NPR Member Stations
The nation's capital wasn't the only section of the country impacted by the events of 1963. Here's a recap of how public media stations across the country are sharing unique sets of stories that amplify the March's national scope.
WYPR called out to listeners who attended the 1963 March to share their stories. Read the entire collection of 'Your Stories.'
WGBH's Media Library and Archives has the only tapes of the original March broadcast in existence and will air this on-site coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, August 28. Explore more public media coverage from WGBH.
Rev. Bernice King talks about her father's symbolic speech with WABE's Rose Scott.
KQED, Northern California
Check out the forum, An Insider's View on the 1963 March on Washington.
KPCC, Southern California
Many lives were changed alongside the National Mall's Reflecting Pool on August 28, 1963. Former New York-resident March Haefele, of KPCC's Off-Ramp, shares his story. He recalls:
And so somehow we, a majority non-black liberal group, found ourselves rattling off to Washington to march for civil rights fifty years ago ... simply because going seemed the right thing to do.
Colorado Public Radio
CPR asked two teens to watch Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech together and reports on their reactions.
Many Chicagoans had front-row seats to the original March, whether traveling to Washington, D.C., by train, or following from their TV sets at home. Listen to these WBEZ stories that commemorate the historic day from the perspective of Chicago locals. The station also invited listeners to tweet their thoughts with #AfternoonShift.
WSKG, New York's Southern Tier and Northern Pennsylvania
Catch up with WSKG events to commemorate the March, including a day-long online screening and live chat.
WAMU, Washington, D.C.
Over the weekend hundreds of thousands gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to reflect on the 1963 March and to hear words from today's leaders. Search WAMU for related coverage of events around the capital city.
Cara Philbin contributed to this post.