The Caucus of African American Leaders and leadership from the City of Annapolis will participate in a commemoration ceremony of the 1963 March on Washington with an event at the Foot Soldiers Memorial at People’s Park. The socially distanced and invite-only event will take place on at 11 a.m. on Friday, August 28, 2020.
“It has been 57 years since the March on Washington,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “Back then, courageous young people led the charge, organizing locally to demand change nationally. We are seeing parallel momentum among young people today who are continuing the struggle for racial equity.”
The commemoration on Friday will honor two dozen local Annapolitans who participated in the 1963 March on Washington. Also recognized at the event will be the City’s first African Americans hired and elected to important roles, including the first two African American Annapolis police officers, Andrew Turner and George Leverett (1960); the first African American Annapolis Fire Department firefighter, Claude “Shorty” Coates (1970); and the first female African American elected to the Annapolis City Council, Cynthia Abney Carter (1997).
In 1963, a number of Annapolis residents joined more than 250,000 people who converged on Washington at the urging of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to ask President John F. Kennedy to move the Civil Rights Act forward. While the bill had been introduced in June of 1963, where Kennedy remarked that the United States, “will not be fully free until all of its citizens are free.” The bill was languishing. Dr. King believed a rallying cry was needed to get legislators to move the bill forward. Following the March and the November 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, the political ground began to shift. The bill contentiously passed both chambers in early summer and was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. It ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The event will be broadcast on Anne Arundel TV and City of Annapolis social media channels.