Today, in comemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Commentary is featuring an article by Joshua Muravchik titled “Fifty Years After the March”.
Muravchik has a unique perspective on the March as he served as a youth organizer in New York who mobilized two buses to ferry marchers from Harlem to D.C. But the article isn’t about Muravchik as it is about the key figures in the civil rights establishment who have been largely relegated to footnotes such as Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Whitney Young of the National Urban League.
In particular, Muravchik focuses his attention on the “big two” A. Philip Randolph, President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and his deputy, Bayard Rustin, who were the chief organizers of the March on Washington. Muravchik does note that Rustin has won some belated recognition on account of his open homosexuality. However, said acknowledgement pales in comparison to that of Malcolm X, who eschewed the Civil Rights Movement for what he considered its insufficient militancy and is yet considered part of its vanguard.
In addition to lamenting the forgotten leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, Muravchik also laments the movement’s diminished quality of leadership following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In any event, I highly recommend Muravchik’s article.