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Things Not Known 50 Years Ago Today

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The March on Washington, such a famous speech, and such a famous march and today on "The List" some things you may not have known about that day 50 years ago today.

  1. First of all with the prospect of all those protestors coming, Washington D.C. was ready for a riot. Not only were there four thousand federal troops prepared for trouble, there were also 15 thousand paratroopers on standby as well. And for the first time since prohibition, all of the city's liquor stores were closed. Of course the day turned out to be incredibly peaceful.
  2. The man who organized the March on Washington was gay. Bayard Rrustin was the brains behind the event but Martin Luther King Jr. kept him at a distance under pressure from other black leaders. President Obama plans to present him, posthumously, the medal of freedom.
  3. Only one woman was invited to speak at the march, that was Medgar Ever's widow Myrlie. She was unable to make it, so instead Daisy Lee Bates, another movement organizer spoke 142 words.  As for women in general, there was a separate march on independence avenue for women in the movement.
  4. The "Dream" portion of King's famous speech was actually semi improvised. He'd used the dream idea before in other speeches and decided in the moment to use it again. He also dropped several lines in the moment because he felt they were too angry or clunky.
  5. And finally, notes from the "I Have a Dream" speech were left at the podium that day. Former USC Coach George Raveling was a volunteer security guard that day and was on stage. When King was finished, he left behind his George picked them up and still has them 50 years later.
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