JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., may have had a dream that is so well documented, but it was a man from Jacksonville who is remembered as the architect of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Civil Rights historian David Nolan said, "By 1963 A. Philip Randolph was the grand old man of the civil rights movement."
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Nolan says Randolph proposed the idea of the march after the demonstrators in Birmingham, Alaba., had been met with fire hoses … police dogs and cattle prods.
In the 1940s, A. Philip Randolph led the March on Washington Movement. He proposed two separate marches: one to ban discrimination in the defense industries during World War II and another to end segregation in the armed services. Those marches never happened, but the one in 1963 drew more than a quarter of a million people.
"I remember A. Philip Randolph getting up to introduce Dr. King for what's certainly become one of the most famous speeches in American history," said Nolan.
Nolan said Randolph introduced King as the moral leader of America.
"I thought that was a perfect description of the role Dr. King held then," said Nolan.
So when America pauses to remember the March on Washington and that powerful speech given by King, Jacksonville can be proud one of its own laid the foundation for it all.
"The man who organized the great march on Washington was a man from Jacksonville," said Nolan. "A. Philip Randolph who has a boulevard named for him, who's memorialized in the convention center and who grew up at a time when Florida's greatest export wasn't oranges but talented black people."