Detroit March to Freedom – June 23, 1963

Walk to Freedom Detroit June 23 1963

Detroit March to Freedom by Jim Yardley (courtesy Walter P Reuther Library)

Dr. Martin Luther King speaks at Cobo Hall
Dr. Martin Luther King speaks at Cobo Hall

Click on Detroit shares that the Detroit March to Freedom on June 23, 1963 was at the time the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history, with 125,000 marching down Woodward Avenue culminating in a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King at Cobo Hall:

The crowd carried signs and moved in relative silence as tens of thousands more watched from sidewalks and buildings.

The route of the march started at a twenty-one-block staging area near Adelaide Street. It followed Woodward Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, then headed west through the Civic Center. An hour and a half after it began, it ended at Cobo Hall, where 25,000 people, an estimated 95% of them African American, filled the building to capacity.

Thousands of demonstrators who could not find a seat spilled onto the lawns and malls outside, and listened to the programming through loudspeakers. Inside, public officials, African American business and civic leaders, and dignitaries including John B. Swainson, Congressman Charles Diggs, and Rev. Albert Cleage were among the speakers.

They note that the rally is remembered primarily for Dr. King’s first delivery of what became the “I Have a Dream” speech two months later at the historic March on Washington. Read on for more.

You can see a bunch more photos in the Walter P Reuther’s Equality & Civil Rights Activism in America photo gallery. Here’s a cool overview of the massive crowd from the Detroit Historical Society & listen to the speech right here:

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2 thoughts on “Detroit March to Freedom – June 23, 1963

  1. Those were the “good ole days” of non-violent protests, never to return again I’m afraid, but still the message of all the voices today (not so silent) should be heard for their desperation of hopes not fulfilled over these past 50 years and should bring us all to a deep soul-searching examination of our hearts for any signs of racism. May God help us.

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