A coalition of six African American organizations came together in 1963 to organize the historic March on Washington. Their goal was to press the congress to pass a civil rights bill introduced by President Kennedy’s administration. John Lewis chaired one of these organizations, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and was chosen to be the youngest speaker at the march. In the initial draft of his speech, he criticized the president’s bill as weak and too cautious. His elders, eager to preserve the success of the march, pressured Lewis to compromise and tone down his speech.
Visit the John Lewis: Get in the Way program website for more information.