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The civil rights activists insisted on holding the march.

Although in years past, Randolph had supported "Negro only" marches, partly to reduce the impression that the civil rights movement was dominated by white communists, organizers in 1963 agreed that whites and blacks marching side by side would create a more powerful image.

They envisioned several large marches during the 1940s, but all were called off (despite criticism from Rustin).

Their Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, held at the Lincoln Memorial on May 17, 1957, featured key leaders including Adam Clayton Powell, Martin Luther King Jr., and Roy Wilkins. 1963 also marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln.

Members of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference put aside their differences and came together for the march.

Many whites and blacks also came together in the urgency for change in the nation.

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