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One similarity between these two events is that neither was initially organized by Martin Luther King, Jr., even though they have become synonymous with his name. The Montgomery Bus boycott, including Rosa Parks's famous refusal to be seated in the back of the city bus, was initially planned by E.D. Nixon, the NAACP chief in Montgomery, and Jo Ann Robinson, a prominent African-American woman. King, then a Montgomery minister, quickly emerged as a leader, however.
The March on Washington was planned by A. Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. The two men had pushed for a large civil rights demonstration in the nation's capital since the Second World War. But the march became associated, for obvious reasons, with King's stunning "I Have a Dream" speech. The fact that both enhanced King's image as a leader of the civil rights movement, however, is another obvious similarity. Other similarities are that both were examples of nonviolent protest, though the Washington March was not exactly an example of direct action or civil disobedience. They both sought, and received, a national audience, and both helped to catapult the struggle against Jim Crow to the forefront of the national agenda. Both were also focused on political and social, rather than economic, equality, an issue that rankled Randolph, who had a lifelong commitment to workers' rights and economic equality as well as ending segregation. Finally, both were massive demonstrations. Almost all of the black population of Montgomery participated in the boycott, while nearly 250,000 people thronged to Washington, D.C..
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