Amid the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, one complaint became almost a refrain: What about economic justice?
After all, the official title of the event was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The line “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” resides in the rhetorical pantheon with “Four score and seven years ago” and “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union.”
But in one of the fascinating ironies that make history so compelling, King didn’t plan to use the “I have a dream” line. His prepared remarks were winding down when gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to him, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream!” — a passage she had heard from him previously.
Even after the march, A. Philip Randolph, the march’s director, received more coverage than King. Randolph spoke of civil rights, too, of course. But he also emphasized more typical left-wing economic fare: “It falls to us to demand new forms of social planning, to create full employment and to put automation at the service of human needs, not at the service of profits.”