CHRISTIANITY TODAY assigned four of us to cover the massive civil rights demonstration in Washington on August 28. Our job was to analyze the religious element of the march. An abundant sprinkling of piety was promised, and organized religion seemed eager to assume a major role in the day’s activities. But did the religious element have a genuine spiritual under-girding, or was it a mere form of godliness with the power thereof implicitly denied?
We met at the office at 8 A.M., although one of us had sacrificed sleep to observe the arrival at the Washington Monument grounds two hours earlier of American Nazis headed by George Lincoln Rockwell. The Nazis immediately drew a cordon of police and the attendant international publicity. They had been refused an official permit for the grounds and were forbidden to make speeches. Rockwell seized the opportunity to complain via radio and television that his rights had been denied him. His impatient deputy later tried to make a speech and was carted off to jail.
Following our office meeting we fanned out over the downtown Washington area. One headed for a breakfast meeting of 200 denominational leaders at the Statler Hilton, another for the New Bible Way Church where 200 Washington ministers held an interdenominational service.
On Capitol Hill, various Congressmen were receiving the ten leaders of the march, a group which included three clergymen: Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. and vice-chairman of the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Religion and Race; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist minister and founder-president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Rabbi Joachim Prinz, president of the American ...1
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