Friday, May 17, 1957: Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom

1957. Photo by Bob Henriques

1963. Photo from Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis

     A crowd of over 30,000 nonviolent demonstrators gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the third anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling. In addition to celebrating the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to end segregation in public education, the Prayer Pilgrimage also dramatized and politicized the failure of most Southern states to work toward or implement the court-ordered desegregation of their schools. The program featured addresses, prayers, songs and scripture recitations by Mahalia Jackson, Roy Wilkins and Mordecai Johnson, as well as Martin Luther King Jr.'s first address before a national audience. The march earned the distinction of being the largest organized demonstration for civil rights and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for future marches on the nation's capitol.
-- From Civil Rights Digital Library (full entry and links: @)

* Summary (from Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University): @
* Text and audio of King's speech (from MLK Institute): @
* Typewritten copy of speech (from Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Atlanta, Georgia): @ 
* Flyer: @
* "Negro Assemblage Hears Pleas to Ike for 'Teeth' in Laws" (Associated Press, May 17): @ 
* "Massed 'Pilgrims' Mark Court Ruling" (Associated Press, May 18): @ 
* Excerpt from "The Civil Rights Revolution: Events and Leaders, 1955-1968" (Frederic O. Sargent, 2004): @

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