African American/Black History MonthAt the Crossroads of Freedom andEquality: The EmancipationProclamation and the March onWashington
African American/Black History MonthIn 2013, the United States will commemoratetwo events that changed the course of thenation—the 1863 EmancipationProclamation and the 1963 March onWashington.
African American/Black History MonthThese milestone events in American historywere the culmination of decades of strugglesby individuals—both famous and unknown—who believed in the American promise thatthis nation was “dedicated to the propositionthat all men are created equal.”
African American/Black History Month Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation
African American/Black History MonthPresident Abraham Lincoln issued thepreliminary Emancipation Proclamation onSeptember 22, 1862. It stipulated that if theSouthern states did not cease their rebellionby January 1, 1863, the Proclamation wouldgo into effect.
African American/Black History MonthThe Emancipation Proclamation applied onlyto states that had seceded from the Union,leaving slavery untouched in the borderstates. It also exempted parts of theConfederacy that had already come underNorthern control. Most important, thefreedom it promised depended upon Unionmilitary victory.
African American/Black History MonthLincoln justified the Proclamation as a warmeasure intended to disable theConfederacy’s use of slaves in the war effort.Being cautious to respect the limits of hisauthority, Lincoln applied the EmancipationProclamation only to the Southern states inrebellion.
African American/Black History MonthThe Southern states used slaves to supporttheir armies on the battlefield and to care fortheir homes so more men could fight. White officers eating while a Black servant stands behind them with a pitcher of water
African American/Black History MonthLincoln first proposed the EmancipationProclamation to his cabinet in the summer of1862, and many of the cabinet secretaries wereapathetic or worried that the Proclamationwas too drastic. Lincoln’s commitment to thenecessity of the Proclamation, along with theUnion victory at Antietam, finally persuadedhis cabinet members to support him.
African American/Black History Month Lincoln Reading the Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet [Painting]. Boston; Museum of Fine Arts.
African American/Black History MonthLincoln also declared that the Proclamationwould be enforced under his power asCommander-in-Chief, and that the freedomof the slaves would be maintained by theExecutive government of the United States.
African American/Black History MonthUp until September 1862, the central focus ofthe war had been to preserve the Union.With the issuance of the EmancipationProclamation, freedom for slaves became alegitimate war plan.
African American/Black History MonthLincoln declared in the Proclamation thatAfrican Americans of “suitable condition,would be received into the armed service ofthe United States.” Five months after theProclamation took effect, the WarDepartment of the United States issuedGeneral Order No. 143, establishing theUnited States Colored Troops.
African American/Black History MonthWhen the Confederacy did not yield, Lincolnissued the final Emancipation Proclamationon January 1, 1863. The inkwell used by Lincoln, the Proclamation draft and Lincolns pen
African American/Black History MonthBy the end of the war, over 200,000 AfricanAmericans would serve in the Union Armyand Navy. African-American Union Soldiers
African American/Black History MonthAlthough the Proclamation initially freedonly the slaves in the rebellious states, by theend of the war the Proclamation hadinfluenced and prepared citizens to advocateand accept abolition for all slaves in both theNorth and South. The 13th Amendment,which abolished slavery in the United States,was passed on December 6, 1865.
African American/Black History Month Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation the crowning achievement of his presidency.
African American/Black History Month“I never, in my life, felt more certain that Iwas doing right, than I do in signing thispaper. If my name ever goes into history itwill be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”
African American/Black History MonthAlthough the Emancipation Proclamationdid not end slavery in the nation, it capturedthe hearts and imaginations of millions ofAmericans and fundamentally transformedthe character of the war. After January 1,1863, every advance of federal troopsexpanded the domain of freedom.
African American/Black History MonthFrom the first days of the Civil War, slaveshad acted to secure their own liberty. TheEmancipation Proclamation confirmed theirinsistence that the war for the Union mustbecome a war for freedom. It added moralforce to the Union cause and strengthenedthe Union both militarily and politically.
African American/Black History MonthAs a milestone along the road to slaverysfinal destruction, the EmancipationProclamation has assumed a place amongthe great documents of human freedom. Former Slave, Sally Fickland views the Emancipation Proclamation, 1947
African American/Black History MonthThe March on Washingtonwas envisioned by A. PhilipRandolph, a long-time civilrights activist dedicated toimproving the economiccondition of Black Americans.When Randolph firstproposed the march in late1962, he received littleresponse from other civil A. Philip Randolphrights leaders.
African American/Black History MonthHe knew that cooperation would be difficultamong civil rights leaders because each hadhis own agenda for the civil rightsmovement, and the leaders competed forfunding and press coverage. He knew thatfor the March on Washington to besuccessful, all civil rights leaders would haveto support the event.
African American/Black History MonthThe "Big Six" leaders were James Farmer, ofthe Congress of Racial Equality; MartinLuther King, Jr., of the Southern ChristianLeadership Conference; John Lewis, of theStudent Nonviolent CoordinatingCommittee; A. Philip Randolph, of theBrotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; RoyWilkins, of the National Association for theAdvancement of Colored People; andWhitney Young, Jr., of the National UrbanLeague.
African American/Black History Month John Lewis, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Farmer and Roy Wilkins met in March 1963 in New York City to organize the March on Washington.
African American/Black History Month The March on Washington was not universally embraced by civil rights leaders, and President John F. Kennedy was initially opposed to the March. Kennedy was concerned that the event might exacerbate already heightened racial tensions across the country and perhaps erode public support for the civil rights movement at large.
African American/Black History MonthAdditionally, various influential organizationsand individuals opposed the March. Besidesthe expected, such as Southern segregationistsand members of the Ku Klux Klan, the Black-separatist group Nation of Islam and itsoutspoken member Malcolm X adamantlydisagreed with the peaceful intentions of theevent. He felt it presented an inaccurate,sanitized pageant of racial harmony and calledit the “Farce on Washington.”
African American/Black History MonthIn May, at the height of the BirminghamCampaign, King joined A. Philip Randolph,James Farmer, and Charles McDew. Afternotifying President Kennedy of their intent,the leaders of the major civil rightsorganizations set the march date for August28th.
African American/Black History MonthThe goals of the protest included: a comprehensive civil rights bill that would doaway with segregated public accommodations protection of the right to vote mechanisms for seeking redress of violations ofconstitutional rights desegregation of all public schools in 1963 federal work programs to train and placeunemployed workers Federal Fair Employment Practices Act barringdiscrimination in all employment
African American/Black History MonthOn August 28, 1963, more than 200,000Americans gathered in Washington, D.C., fora political rally known as the March onWashington for Jobs and Freedom.Organized by civil rights and religiousgroups, the event was designed to shed lighton the political and social challenges AfricanAmericans faced across the United States.
African American/Black History MonthThe March began witha rally at the WashingtonMonument featuringseveral celebrities andmusicians. Participantsthen marched themile-long National Mallto the Lincoln Memorial. Aerial view of the March on Washington
African American/Black History MonthThe 3-hour-long program at the LincolnMemorial included speeches from prominentcivil rights and religious leaders andculminated in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "IHave a Dream" speech. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington
African American/Black History Month President John F. Kennedy with leaders of the March on Washington
African American/Black History Month"We have witnessed today in Washington tens ofthousands of Americans, both Negro and white,exercising their right to assemble peaceably anddirect the widest possible attention to a great nationalissue. Efforts to secure equal treatment and equalopportunity for all without regard to race, color,creed, or nationality are neither novel nor difficult tounderstand. What is different today is the intensifiedand widespread public awareness of the need to moveforward in achieving these objectives, objectiveswhich are older than this Nation." — John F. Kennedy
African American/Black History MonthThe March on Washington, became a keymoment in the struggle for civil rights in theUnited States. It was not only a plea forequality and justice, it also helped pave theway for both the ratification of the 24thAmendment to the U.S. Constitutionoutlawing the poll tax and the passage of theCivil Rights Act of 1964.
African American/Black History Month The following year, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a concrete step toward fulfilling the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation. President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964
African American/Black History Month “The story of African Americans is a story of resilience and perseverance. It traces a people who refused to accept the circumstances under which they arrived on these shores, and it chronicles the generations who fought for an America that truly reflects the ideals enshrined in our founding documents.” —President Barack Obama Presidential Proclamation 2012
SourcesThe Emancipation Proclamation http://www.whitehouse.gov/ http://www.archives.gov/ http://www.loc.gov/ http://www.alplm.org/ http://www.history.com/March on Washington http://www.thekingcenter.org/ http://www.archives.gov/ http://www.ourdocuments.gov/ http://www.loc.gov/ http://www.history.com/
Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida February 2013 All photographs are public domain and are from various sources as cited. The findings in this report are not to be construed as an official DEOMI, U.S. military services, or the Department of Defense position, unless designated by other authorized documents.
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