Always Have a Plan
On Wednesday, August 28th, the nation will recognize the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Today, a March on Washington seems benign, but in 1963, it required a thoughtful plan that kept the message tight, organized and easily communicated to the masses – loud and clear. Here are a few interesting facts to remember about that day: The Civil Rights Act had not yet passed. It passed in 1964. The Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. The Fair Housing Act passed in 1968. In short, it was a time of great change and not exactly welcome change.
One of the things that struck me about the images on that warm day are the signs being carried by marchers. They are all visually connected, they looked the same, the sizes are all the same, the messages were clear – “We March”, We Demand,” their requests were stated unambiguously.
Simply stated, these marchers had a cohesive message. They dressed in their Sunday clothes. They were organized and brought in on buses from around the south with instructions on where to meet, what to say, and how to present themselves.
Why was that important? They would be seen by an audience of millions. It would be one of the first highly televisioned marches and the message had to be clear; the messengers had to be reliable, especially at a time when so many in America were treating the marchers as intruders in their schools and neighborhoods.
In 1962 and 1963, several school districts opted to close schools rather than desegregate. It wasn’t easy to change an entire way of life and yet the March was a starting point and, by all accounts, a success. It was also well planned with a manual (upper right) that included what to write on signs, where to meet, what to chant and how to conduct oneself. It was this plan that turned passion into success. And, it is a testament to the first step to success – have a plan.
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