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The impetus for a march on Washington developed over a long period of time, and earlier efforts to organize such a demonstration included the March on Washington Movement of the 1940s. Philip Randolph—the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, president of the Negro American Labor Council, Randolph and Rustin continued to organize around the idea of a mass march on Washington.They envisioned several large marches during the 1940s, but all were called off (despite criticism from Rustin).However, the meeting also provoked the Kennedy administration to take action on the civil rights for African-Americans. Kennedy gave his famous civil rights address on national television and radio, announcing that he would begin to push for civil rights legislation—the law which eventually became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.That night, Mississippi activist Medgar Evers was murdered in his own driveway, further escalating national tension around the issue of racial inequality. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin began planning the march in December 1961.Some called for a complete shutdown of the city through civil disobedience.Others argued that the movement should remain nationwide in scope, rather than focus its energies on the nation's capital. Kennedy invited African-American novelist James Baldwin, along with a large group of cultural leaders, to a meeting in New York to discuss race relations.

Members of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference put aside their differences and came together for the march.

Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions.

Together, the Big Six plus four became known as the "Big Ten." On June 22, the organizers met with President Kennedy, who warned against creating "an atmosphere of intimidation" by bringing a large crowd to Washington.

The civil rights activists insisted on holding the march.

The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s.