Interview with Bayard Rustin


Bayard Rustin:

The March on Washington was created by A. Philip Randolph. And Mr. Randolph understood some very fundamental things that very few other people did. He knew that we were soon going to have a civil rights bill and a voter rights act. And he knew that once we got the voter rights act and the civil rights bill that the whole nature of the problem was going to change. Because the revolution had been about voter rights, rights to use public accommodations, and the right to send your child to the school of his choice. And for that you could use demonstrations and nonviolence because these were things that all black people did not have while all white people had them. He foresaw that a new period was coming and that new period had to do with economics. And that if you were going to go into a period of economics, there could not be a black agenda, because we were going to have unemployment, but more whites than blacks unemployed. You were going to need more hospital beds, but more whites needed hospital beds because there are so many more of them in the population. He foresaw that the whole problem of education was a matter now of economics. He said, "For those things, you cannot march. You have to go into the ballot box and we are soon going to have that right. And therefore I want to close down the period of demonstrations with a massive demonstration, and not only do I want to close down the demonstration period, I want to open up a new period." And what is the new period? It's economics. So he said, "Let us call this March on Washington ‘the March for Jobs and Freedom.'"