Interview with John Lewis
QUESTION 17
INTERVIEWER:

WHO PAID THE BILLS FOR THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON?

John Lewis:

Well, I would say a—different organizations, different community people throughout the country, raised money. But first of all, you had to get certain people to buy into, to the, to supporting the march. Little thing happened—one story that the people probably never know—in a, in a meeting in July, the first meeting, July 1963 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, a leader meeting took place on July 2nd, 1963. There were some people didn't want Bayard Rustin as the director—some black people, some black leaders—they thought he was too radical, he was too militant, he had been identified with the left. And there was a—one leader of the NAACP and a leader of the Urban League, insisted that Mr. Randolph ask Mr. Rustin to leave the meeting. And at one point Mr. Randolph had to ask Bayard Rustin to leave the meeting, because of the insistence on the part of Mr. Wilkins, on the part of Whitney Young, Fred Shuttlesworth and Reverend Abernathy…was asked to leave. James Foreman of, of SNCC was asked to leave, and Mr. Wilkins kept insisting that only the head of the organization, but for a period Mr. Wilkins had today, and it's not to say anything bad about the man, but he had a problem dealing with young people, he had a problem dealing with people that didn't share his ideas. But in the end, Mr. Randolph carried the day, because we suggested in that meeting, in that discussion particularly James Farmer, Martin King, and myself, that Mr. Randolph be the chairperson of the March on Washington and that he be free to select the person of, of his choice to be the director, to be the deputy director, whatever, and he selected Bayard Rustin to direct the march.