Medical Professionals Support Civil Rights in March on Washington
CIVIL RIGHTS. Typed Information Sheets, Medical Committee for Civil Rights for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963. 5 pp., 8.5? x 11?. Some edge fading of colored sheets; very good.
Organized by a coalition of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew approximately 250,000 people to Washington, 75 to 80 percent of whom were African American. The march was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in American history.
The Medical Committee for Civil Rights is actively participating in the March on Washington sponsored by CORE, NAACP, National Urban League, Negro-American Labor Council, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Professional health workers will have a special and important role to play in this historic event. We are among the most respected and influential members of every community and so it must be clear to the nation that we too stand solidly with the clergy, with union members, with the unemployedin fact, with all segments of our society in this united effort to assure jobs and freedom for all.
To assure the success of our special role, the leaders of the March are suggesting that participating physicians, dentists, nurses, and other health workers participate as part of the medical group rather than as professionally unidentified members of civil rights, church, fraternal and state groups.
Spouses and children over 16 of participating health workers may participate as part of the medical group.
Please do not wear professional uniforms, (to wear them on such an occasion would not be proper). Wear comfortable shoes, a head covering, and if the weather forecast suggests rain, a plastic rain coat.
The Washington Headquarters of the Medical Committee for Civil Rights at the Willard Hotel will be staffed continuously from 8:00 Tuesday night, August 27 to 8:00 Thursday morning, August 29.
MEETING AT THE OCCIDENTAL RESTAURANT: We will discuss the future role of the health professions in the civil rights movement, and briefly describe projects both planned and in progress. Among the speakers will be: Dr. Kenneth Clement, President of the National Medical Association, Dr. Mathews, President of the National Dental Association, and representatives of the various health fields from the Medical Committee for Civil Rights.
SIGNS: We have had signs printed which have the professional designations M.D., D.D.S., and R.N., Respectively. You will march under the sign which carries your professional designation. If you are not among any of these categories, you will march under MCCR signs without categorical designation. Try to stay with the group during the remainder of the days proceedings.
NOTE: THIS WILL BE A LONG, HARD, HECTIC DAY, AND THE OBJECTIVES OF THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM SHOULD BE KEPT IN MIND SO AS TO PREVENT LOSS OF TEMPER, ETC. THERE WILL BE MANY, MANY PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON, AND MUCH CONFUSION; THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF A VICTORIAN-TYPE COURTESY ARE IN ORDER.
Everyone marching is requested to wear a MARCH ON WASHINGTON button for purposes of identification. If you do not have one, you may purchase it from your group captain at 25¢ per button. Proceeds go to March on Washington Headquarters to help cover the expenses incurred by the numerous arrangements for it.
Physicians John Holloman Jr. (1919-2002) and Walter Lear (1923-2010) founded the interracial Medical Committee for Civil Rights (MCCR) in 1963. The MCCR made national headlines by picketing the American Medical Associations convention in Atlantic City in June 1963, with signs calling on the Association to end all segregation and discrimination in medical care. In 1968, the American Medical Association agreed to end its practice of racial exclusion.
More than two hundred health professionals representing MCCR participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963. Deeply in debt, the MCCR shut down in the fall of 1963. In 1964, Tom Levin created the Medical Committee on Human Rights (MCHR) as a successor organization to support activists during Freedom Summer in Mississippi, because many local physicians, black and white, would not treat injured civil rights activists. Approximately one hundred medical volunteers participated and learned that the African American population of Mississippi received virtually no health care. After the summer of 1964, the MCHR became a permanent organization and the following year established a field office in Jackson, Mississippi. MCHR soon expanded into Alabama and Louisiana, and put health care on the civil rights agenda.
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