The Daily Grind Video

On August 24, 2013, tens of thousands of people descended on the nation’s capitol to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The event, which was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured speakers that addressed race relations, the voting rights act, and the American justice system.

And though the agenda was slightly different, it mirrored the same dedication, unity, and the long-standing pursuit of equality that was evident half a century ago.

We’ll be sure to remember this monumental commemoration and call for action, but what do we really know about the movement that took place before most of our readers were born? Here are some interesting facts about the first March on Washington.

1. MLK Jr.’s historic speech clocked in at 16 minutes…

Which wouldn’t have been a big deal had the limit for speeches not been four minutes. Oops!

2. And surprisingly enough, MLK didn’t organize the event…

The march was organized by civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, a gay man and former communist who refused to serve in WWII. 

3. The march was officially for Jobs and Freedom…

Despite the common knowledge that it was really about the struggle between blacks and whites. Read the full list of demands, here.

4. Women had a separate march…

Medgar Evers’ widow Myrlie was the only woman invited to speak. She wasn’t able to come, so Daisy Lee Bates, a movement organizer, spoke 142 words. Read about it, here.

5. The march was attended by many celebrities…

Those there said it was almost like a red carpet event. Bob Dylan, Jackie Robinson, Josephine Baker, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Marian Anderson and Joan Baez were all in attendance.