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The Negative Effects

Although the March was a resounding success, and created a national awareness of this quest for equality, it was not exactly an end to the movement. Many harsh segregationists, throughout the nation, were in no way moved. They continued their inhumane acts against Negroes. To the outside observer the March's success meant that the entire movement was successful. But the bitter reality was, it was just another step in an ongoing battle for freedom.

Almost as if they felt inclined to respond to the march, white supremacist groups wasted no time in retaliating against this demonstration. The chairman of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, James Venable, made plans for a massive demonstration of their own at Stone Mountain, Georgia. As Venable once put it, it would be, "the White man's answer" to the March. Although nearly 6,500 Klansman were expected, only a few hundred showed up for the peaceful march.

On September 9, for the first day of school in Birmingham, Alabama, three public schools were integrated by court order. Under the direction of Governor George Wallace, Alabama National Guardsmen were sent to protect the black students. President Kennedy changed the Guard to federal, thus taking over command, and removed the troops from Birmingham. For obvious reasons, the city was full of tension.

The next Sunday, just 18 days after the March, was the annual Youth Day at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Dynamite exploded, shaking the entire church, leaving four girls dead- Denise McNair,11, Cynthia Wesley, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Addie May Collins, 14. That very same day, Birmingham police killed a black teenager in the street, and another black youth riding a bicycle in that city was attacked and murdered by a group of whites.

The most publicized event, most likely due to the march, was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was campaigning for John Connally, in Dallas, Texas when this heartless murder took place.

Responding to the hatred in America, Malcolm X, retorted that is was a case of "chickens coming home to roost." Feeling that this remark was incredibly unsympathetic at a vulnerable time, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, murdered him.

In 1965 Martin Luther King, Jr. started up a voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. There he led a march of hundreds of people from the small city to the state capital, Montgomery, AL. On the way to their destination, the blacks were met by prejudiced white officers and officials who trapped the blacks, and tried to kill them. They were attacked by hoses so powerful, that they could rip the bark off of a tree. It was just another example of how corrupt the local police was.

King, the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, was supposed to help the SLCL hold a Poor People's March on Washington, in 1968. While planning for this, he was asked to go down to Memphis, Tennessee, and lead a march for striking black sanitation workers. Agreeing to do this, King traveled down to Memphis where, on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray. To this day, January 19th is reserved for Martin Luther King, Jr., day. His dedication to the Movement would never be forgotten.

Only two months later the former U.S. attorney general, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was in Los Angeles, California, campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination. On June 5, 1968, he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.

Within five years, three of the most influential people in March on Washington- the two Kennedys, and King, were dead. Not one of them reached the age of 46 years old.

Eventually, almost every leader and organizer of the March would die, and they will never be replaced. They did so much to improve the state of equality in the country, and their work will linger on forever. Unfortunately, no matter how much is done to grant freedom to all, there will always be prejudice. There will always be hate, and there will always be violence. But, for at least one shining moment, on August 28, 1963, both white and black, rich and poor, were one. For one shining moment, they "had a dream".