Jeff Nilsson of the Saturday Evening Post joined Weekends with Alex Witt to explained how the discriminatory practices African American men faced when enlisting in the military or attaining defense jobs nearly prompted a 1941 march on Washington. The magazine recently published a retrospective ahead of the 50th anniversary of the civil rights rally.
“A. Phillip Randolph went to Roosevelt and said I will gather 20,000 black Americans and we will march on Washington and we are going to protest and it is going to be very visible and you don’t want this type of publicity.”
FDR quickly responded by issuing an executive order that ended the discriminatory differences between black and white workers.
Lehigh University’s James Peterson argues that progressives today could exert similar pressure on President Obama. “This is also instructive for understanding today the relationship between progressives and President Obama…there has to be a situation where political pressure could be brought to bear.”
Peterson said that for the anniversary, the country should reflect and see how it is still separated over issues like the voter identification laws, women’s reproductive rights, and the criminal justice system: “We can think about what we’ve accomplished in the last 50 years but I hope we spend more time on what needs to happen now.”