Smithsonian Celebrates 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington with Exhibits and Public Programs

August 14, 2013
News Release

The Smithsonian is marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Aug. 28, 1963, with a series of public programs and exhibits. All events are free and open to the public. Additional information can be found on the Smithsonian website.

Featured Exhibitions

“Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963” at the National Museum of American History commemorates two major events in the history of African American equality in the United States. The exhibit, sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, features Abraham Lincoln’s top hat, shards of glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church explosion in 1963, Harriet Tubman’s lace handkerchief and collar, a marshal’s armband from the March on Washington and the guitar played by singer Joan Baez at the march. The exhibit will be on view until Sept. 7, 2014, and special tours of the exhibit will be offered through its closing.

The National Portrait Gallery’s “One Life: Martin Luther King Jr.” exhibition highlights the career of the civil rights leader. It includes photographs of King as he came to prominence in the civil rights movement through the end of his life. Also on display are buttons and programming from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, original art from the Time magazine cover featuring King as Man of the Year and Life magazine issues covering his assassination and funeral. It will be on display until June 1, 2014.

Public Programs

As part of their ongoing series, the National Museum of American History is featuring “Historic Theater: Join the Student Sit-Ins at the Greensboro Lunch Counter,” an interactive 15-20–minute performance that invites visitors to take part in a training session for sit-ins using a 1960s manual. The performance, located at the Greensboro Lunch Counter on the second floor of the museum’s east wing, runs most Tuesdays through Sundays at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. through the end of August.

The National Museum of American History will also host The 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington Commemoration Wednesday, Aug. 28, with tours of the “Changing America” exhibit, an open–microphone session for visitors to share thoughts and memories of the march, and footage of the March projected in the museum.

In addition to its exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery will host a March on Washington 50th Anniversary Family Day Saturday, Aug. 24, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Kogod Courtyard. Vocalists Kim and Reggie Harris will perform for guests, and visitors can participate in a slogan button-making activity hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

To commemorate the March on Washington anniversary, Smithsonian Folkways has released a new playlist, Sounds of the Civil Rights Movement, highlighting the important role that music played in uniting, energizing, expressing and sustaining momentum among participants in the African American civil rights movement.

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