Interview with Bayard Rustin
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

EXCUSE ME. [noise] OK. ISN'T IT TRUE THAT-WASN'T THE MARCH A SOPHISTICATED POLITICAL TACTIC TO FORCE CONGRESS TO ACT AND SCARE THE HELL OUT THE KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION?

Bayard Rustin:

Yeah, the Kennedy Administration was sitting on this bill and not putting its weight behind it to get a civil rights bill. And Mr. Randolph conceived the idea that there was only one way to get the Kennedys to do it. And that was to send a quarter of a million people into Washington and that platform [cough] was to address Congress. There were about three hundred Congressmen there, but none of them said a word. We had told them to come, but we wanted to talk with them, they were not to talk to us. And after they came and saw that it was very orderly, that there was fantastic determination, that there were all kinds of people there, other than black people, they knew there was a consensus in this country for the bill. And, Kennedy, when the leaders before the March on Washington had been resistant, after the March on Washington, he called them into the White House and made it very clear to them now he was prepared to put his weight behind the bill.