Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Planning the March on Washington

LEWIS: I remember this young lady named Rachelle Horowitz, who worked like under Bayard. And Rachelle -- you could call her at three o'clock in the morning, and say, "Rachelle, how many buses are coming from New York? How many trains coming out of the South? How many buses coming from Philadelphia? How many planes coming from California?" And she could tell you because Rachelle Horowitz and Bayard Rustin worked so closely together. They put that thing together. We issued the call on July 2nd, and by August 28th, 1963, you know, the media said it was 250,000. I think it was one of the great under-counts of all time. There were many more people.

BOND: Did you expect there'd be that many people when you began these planning sessions?


LEWIS: No. We thought if we got seventy-five or a hundred thousand it would be a success. But that morning of the March on Washington, we came up to Capitol Hill, met with the leadership on the House side and later on the Senate side. And we were leaving the Senate side and we were going down near Constitution Avenue, and we were going to get in cars and be taken to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. We saw a sea of humanity coming from Union Station, from the train station, and we couldn't -- we said, "No, we can't ride, we've got to walk." And the group of people just came and literally just pushed us on and pushed us by the Washington Monument all the way down to the Lincoln Memorial, so we -- really, it was like we were supposed to the leader but there go my people, let me catch up with them. So they were leading us.

BOND: Yes. That happened in the march here this past weekend.