Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Jim Haskins’ The March on Washington chronicles the famous march, from the conception of the idea in 1941 to its successful completion on August 28, 1963. Each chapter deals with a specific aspect of the march, and Haskins offers the historical background for each one. He allows the reader to see the vision for the march, how the idea developed, and the effects that the march had on the shaping of civil rights in America.

The mini-biography that Haskins provides on Asa Philip Randolph sets the tone for the book. Randolph lived through the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War and through the Jim Crow era, and he saw the founding of the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP. Randolph organized the first black labor union for Pullman porters in 1934 and in 1941 was responsible for legislation banning discrimination in war industries, opening thousands of jobs for black people. He was also responsible for the 1948 legislation banning segregation in the armed forces.

Randolph was not alone in his struggle to bring equality to African Americans. Lawyers with the NAACP brought cases of discrimination before the U.S. Supreme Court. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., organized a successful bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. National organizations were founded to fight for equal rights, marches were held throughout the country, and some civil rights legislation, although weak, was passed. These and other events brought to the forefront the necessity for laws to provide equal rights for all Americans. President John F. Kennedy made a strong public statement in support of civil rights and proposed a civil...

(The entire section is 667 words.)