Interview with Courtland Cox
QUESTION 7
INTERVIEWER:

IT'S A QUESTION ABOUT HOW THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON CAME TO BE. WHAT AGENDAS WERE OPERATING? I MEAN, WAS A. PHILIP RANDOLPH JUST TRYING TO CONSUMATE HIS TWENTY-TWO YEAR OLD DREAM? WAS SNCC HAVING ITS OWN PARTICULAR CONCERNS? OR WERE THE LIBERAL LABOR PEOPLE SIMPLY CONCERNED TO PUSH KENNEDY'S CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION? DID THE MARCH REPRESENT A KIND OF CONSUMATION OF ALL OF THESE AGENDAS, OR DID IT REPRESENT A MEDIATION?

Courtland Cox:

Well I think that, I know, the March on Washington represented a number of things for a number of people. The first is that I think the civil rights bill, the first civil rights bill was coming up and the discussion about how to get it ah dealt with in terms of the Republican Dixiecratic kind of coalition and I think that one of the, the, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, type person felt that it was important to go back to the kind of things that they knew in the earlier days when they were in CORE in 46 and the kinds of views they held there, the kind of pacifist action in terms of the labor movement. So that kind of motion came out of there. They, they felt, that, that kind of action was needed for that. Then there was the other group really led by Malcolm X. Ah Julius Hobson Sr., um Gloria Dandridge, ah Stanley Branch and a number of other people who felt that this was, they were going to bring the country to a halt. I mean the discussion was about laying down in front of trains, and on runways and airports, and, and bringing this country to a halt until civil rights legislation was passed. Dick Gregory was involved in that discussion. So you had a whole group of people like that who felt that the March on Washington you could get hundreds of thousands of people to grind this country to a halt, And they were entered, involved in it because of that. Then you had a number of other people who felt that if you did not get in front of this, you, and control this kind of motion, then in fact it would get away from you and if they want a position, there go my people and I need to get in front of then because I'm their leader. And so that's what the kind of motion that you had so that I think with some people they felt the pacifist ah labor movement instinct to, to get some kind of pressure built with another group of people they were prepared to bring this country to a halt. But with another, that you had to join it in order to put brakes on it and put all sorts of kinds of ah, of, of you know reins on the motion. So that as, as I see it, they probably about three major agendas. Then I think the other thing that, that those who were not for it initially when they saw that it could go somewhere, tried to channel it mostly into focusing on a particular piece of legislation. Ah I think that Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph had you know jobs and freedom and they wanted to initiate the twin motion. But I think people like the NAACP and the Urban League had a, and people like the Kennedy administration, had a particular piece of legislation that they wanted passed that they thought they would use this motion to, to, to get passed.