At the time, the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of many small and large steps in the civil rights movement, and as it turned out, it would spark the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Martin Luther King, Jr. and more than 200,000 other Americans all converged on Washington in late August and their voices, ideas and hopes were all captured on audio tape by public radio. This first-person archive of interviews with participants, leaders and King’s now iconic “I have a Dream” speech was discovered 40 years later in the audio archives of WGBH in Boston.
These 15-hours of audio tape are the only existing recordings of the broadcast and an award from Save America’s Treasures in 2008 supported the documentation, restoration, and archival preservation of these threatened recordings, which are now accessible online to scholars and the public. The collection contains hours of interviews and commentary captured nowhere else, and provides an important alternative to the commercial broadcast coverage of the March.
Save America’s Treasures (SAT) has brought back to life the experiences, achievements and places that formed the long narrative of the struggle for civil rights in this country. From Boston’s African Meeting House, the oldest extant Black church in America and the center of the Abolitionist Movement, to King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. From Harriet Tubman to Rosa Parks to Mary Church Terrell, who continued the work of Frederick Douglas and whose home was a short distance away from the 1963 gathering of civil rights leaders who followed in her footsteps. To read the transcripts and hear the voices of the participants in the March go to the WGBH Open Vault.