Dn! In Depth

1963: A Pivotal Year for the Civil Rights Movement

This pages features Democracy Now! interviews about the Civil Rights Movement as we mark the 50th anniversary of many of its pivotal moments in 1963. The year began with Alabama Gov. George Wallace vowing "segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever." That April, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and wrote "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," and in June NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home in Mississippi. On August 28th, hundreds of thousands gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Less than a month later, four young girls were killed when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. In November, Malcolm X delivered his "Message to the Grass Roots" speech.

Top Stories

  • Mlk
    As we continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King’s "I Have a Dream" speech, we’re...
    Aug 29, 2013 | Story
  • Claudette_colvin_then_and_now
    At a ceremony unveiling a statue in her honor last month, President Obama called Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus a "singular act of disobedience."...
    Mar 29, 2013 | Story
  • Harry_belafonte2
    Along with his rise to worldwide stardom, the musician and actor Harry Belafonte has been deeply involved in social activism for decades. One of Dr. Martin Luther King’s closest confidants,...
    Feb 18, 2013 | Story
  • Splash_image20111013-7352-1yefwdr-0
    Almost half a century after his famous raised-fist salute at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, John Carlos has authored a new memoir with sportswriter Dave Zirin, "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World." Olympic medal winners in the 200 meter race, John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute during the national anthem at the Olympic prize ceremony as a protest against racism...
    Oct 12, 2011 | Story
  • Splash_image20120113-1298-hph7vq-0
    "Makeda," the new novel by TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, is set at the dawn of the civil rights era. The book follows a young man coming of age in segregated Richmond, Virginia, who discovers his roots in Africa through his blind grandmother. "Sometimes when we think of slavery, we calculate the economic consequence of it," Robinson says. "But we have not calculated the psychosocial consequence of it, unless we...
    Jan 13, 2012 | Story
  • Splash_image20120213-29659-1ohh3ym-0
    Whitney Houston is just the latest cultural icon to pass away during this year’s Black History Month. On February 1, "Soul Train" host Don Cornelius was found dead at his home in Los Angeles, in what appeared to be a suicide. Cornelius brought black music and culture into America’s living rooms through his dance show, "Soul Train," one of the longest-running syndicated shows in television history, and played a critical...
    Feb 13, 2012 | Story
  • Cheryl_willis-2
    In this year marking the 150th anniversary year of the Emancipation Proclamation, we speak to NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills, who uncovered the story of her great-great-great-grandparents, Sandy and Emma Wills. Sandy was a slave who escaped from his master and joined the United States Colored Troops to fight in the Civil War. Wills based her book, "Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale," on thousands of documents from the National Archives. The book’s...
    Mar 26, 2013 | Story
  • The_wilmington_ten
    As the new year approaches, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue is being urged to pardon a group of civil rights activists who were falsely convicted and imprisoned 40 years ago for the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store. Their conviction was overturned in 1980, but the state has never pardoned them. We’re joined by one of the "Wilmington Ten," longtime civil rights activist Benjamin Chavis, who served eight years behind bars...
    Dec 28, 2012 | Story
  • Matthewdelmont
    Last month the pioneering TV broadcaster Don Cornelius died at the age of 75. As the host of "Soul Train," many obituaries described Cornelius as the "African-American Dick Clark," the legendary host of the popular TV show, "American Bandstand," from 1956 to 1989. Clark claimed the show, which was originally hosted in West Philadelphia before moving to Hollywood, was "one of the first integrated shows on national...
    Mar 02, 2012 | Story
  • Blackpower
    Amy Goodman interviews Joanne Griffith, the editor of "Redefining Black Power: Reflections on the State of Black America," a new book partly inspired by some of the Pacifica Radio Archives’ historic recordings. [includes rush transcript]
    Feb 29, 2012 | Web Exclusive
  • Ali
    In a broadcast exclusive, we air excerpts from a new documentary that examines the struggle Muhammad Ali faced in his conversion to Islam, his refusal to fight in Vietnam, and the years of exile that followed before his eventual return to the ring. Ali is considered the greatest boxer in the history of sports. When he refused to be drafted into the military and filed as a conscientious objector, he was sentenced to prison and stripped of his heavyweight...
    Apr 26, 2013 | Story
  • Birmingham-bombing
    Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. On Sept. 15, 1963, a dynamite blast planted by the Ku Klux Klan killed four young girls in the church: Denise McNair, age 11, and Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14 years old. Twenty other people were injured. No one was arrested for the bombings for 14 years. We...
    Sep 16, 2013 | Story
  • Medgar_evers
    Fifty years ago today — June 12th, 1963 — 37-year-old civil rights organizer Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi. In the early 1960s, Evers served as the first NAACP field secretary for Mississippi, where he worked to end segregation, fought for voter rights, struggled to increase black voter registration, led business boycotts, and brought attention to murders and lynchings. We hear...
    Jun 12, 2013 | Story
  • Mlk
    Forty-five years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was in Memphis to march with sanitation workers demanding a better wage. We air part of a speech he gave to the National Association of Radio Announcers the previous year in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King spoke about the power of the media and the horrors of war in Vietnam. [includes rush transcript]
    Apr 04, 2013 | Story
  • Lewis
    Today we spend the hour with 13-term Congressmember Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, one of the last surviving speakers from the historic 1963 March on Washington, D.C. — which took place 50 years ago this year. During the 1960s, Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and beaten nearly to death as he served as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, marched side by side with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize the Freedom...
    Jul 05, 2013 | Story
  • King_film
    As part of today’s national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we continue our discussion with Associate Producer Richard Kaplan of the rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis." [includes rush transcript]
    Aug 28, 2013 | Web Exclusive
  • Martin-luther-king-jr1
    As part of today’s national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis," is being screened in theaters nationwide. Largely made from original newsreel footage, the film was played at a "one time only" event on one night in 1970 at 650 theaters,...
    Aug 28, 2013 | Story
  • Gloriarichardson4
    Fifty years ago this week, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. But where were the female civil rights activists? At the historic march, only one woman spoke for just more than a minute: Daisy Bates of the NAACP. Today we are joined by civil rights pioneer Gloria Richardson, the co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee...
    Aug 27, 2013 | Story
  • Marchdc
    Tens of thousands of people gathered in the nation’s capital on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, originally held on August 28, 1963. People filled the National Mall as speakers reflected on the progress in achieving the goals outlined by the event’s most famous speaker, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln...
    Aug 26, 2013 | Story
  • Mlk-march-on-washington2
    One week out from the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — and just days away from a major march this Saturday commemorating the event — we spend the hour looking at much of its forgotten history. More than a quarter-million people came to the nation’s capital on August 28, 1963, to protest discrimination, joblessness and economic inequality faced by African Americans. Many now consider the...
    Aug 21, 2013 | Story
  • March_on_washington_072213
    Read an excerpt from the new book by our recent guest, historian William P. Jones, "The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights."
    Aug 20, 2013 | Web Exclusive
  • Bayardrustin1
    The White House has announced it will posthumously award the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the trailblazing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Obama will honor Rustin and 15 others, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and baseball great Ernie Banks, at the White House later this year. Rustin was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced him to Mahatma Gandhi’s...
    Aug 12, 2013 | Story
  • King-afilmrecorded-1
    In a Black History Month special, we air excerpts of a rarely seen Oscar-nominated documentary about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the rise of the civil rights movement. Produced by Ely Landau, "King: A Filmed Record...Montgomery to Memphis" is made from original newsreel footage and other original video footage shot of marches, rallies and church services. "King" was originally screened for one night only in 1970 in more...
    Feb 25, 2013 | Story