Written by: Sara Kugler
Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington by highlighting the women who were leaders in the Civil Rights movement but were only invited to have minimal roles in the March.
Daisy Bates is the only woman who spoke at the 1963 March on Washington during the official program. Bates delivered the “Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom” in the place of Myrlie Evers, who was unable to attend the March. Josephine Baker also spoke, but prior to the start of the official program.
Below is the transcript of Daisy Bates’ remarks from the Educational Radio Network / ERN’s coverage of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The transcript is provided by the WGBH Media Library and Archives “Open Vault;” you can find the full transcript and listen to the radio broadcasting here.
August 28, 1963
A. Philip Randolph: Our fellow Americans, in great tribute to the role the Negro woman has played in the cause of freedom, equality and human dignity I now call on Ms. Daisy Bates, that great champion of Negro rights and freedom to give awards to…
Geesey [radio reporter]: Of course, she’s one of the five women who led the special part of the march, which went down Independence Avenue. She’ll be called on to make a speech to this large group.
Randolph: …Ms. Diane Nash Bevel, Ms. Herbert Lee, Ms. Rosa Parks and Ms. Gloria Richardson—Mrs. Daisy Bates.
Daisy Bates: Mr. Randolph, friends, the women of this country [inaudible] our pledge to you, to Martin Luther King, Roy Wilkins and all of you fighting for civil liberties—that we will join hands with you as women of this country. Rosa Gregg, Vice President; Dorothy Height, the National Council of Negro Women; and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; the Methodist Church Women, all the women pledge that we will join hands with you. We will kneel-in; we will sit-in until we can eat in any corner in the United States. We will walk until we are free, until we can walk to any school and take our children to any school in the United States. And we will sit-on and we will kneel-in and we will lie-in if necessary until every Negro in America can vote. This we pledge to the women of America.
Randolph: May I request the women whom we are honoring to stand? Mrs. Diane Nash Bevel of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; Ms. Herbert Lee, the wife whose husband was killed in Mississippi two years ago, because he tried to register and vote: Mrs. Medgar Evers widow of the NAACP…
Geesey: Mr. Randolph isn’t able to continue as the crowd again stands to honor Mrs. Medgar Evers, wife of the slain NAACP leader.
Randolph: I’m sorry to report to you that Sister Evers could not attend our demonstration, because of unusual circumstances. Who else? Will the…Ms. Rosa Parks—will they all stand—and Mrs. Gloria Richardson.
This transcript is from the WGBH Media Library and Archives “Open Vault;” you can find the full transcript and listen to the radio broadcasting here.