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Documentary Tells the Other Stories of the March on Washington

The U.S. National Archives/Flickr

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, the march that catalyzed the changes in civil rights for African-Americans that would be fought for through the 1960's and beyond.

It was also the event that enshrined Doctor Martin Luther King among the greatest orators of our time. Hundreds of thousands of people packed the National Mall in Washington, DC, for that event. But the march was about far more than Dr. King and his message.

A documentary airing Tuesday and Wednesday on MPTV aims to tell the stories of the march's organizers, and of its impact on Milwaukeeans.

"Finding things about Dr. King was pretty easy," says Joanne Williams, host of MPTV's Black Nouveau. "What wasn't easy was finding sound of these other men and telling the story about how they brought the march to life - and how Dr. King was part of it."  

Black Nouveau's special broadcast is called "Jobs and Freedom: 50 Years and Counting."

"Since most people don't know that much about the march except for King's speech, they think of it as only a march for civil rights, but it was originally it was a march for jobs and freedom," Williams says.  "It was also a march to get people fair housing, fair employment, raise the minimum wage, better education... and civil rights became part of it."

The MPTV special airs Tuesday at the start of a slate of programs marking the anniversary, including a national PBS special called "The March."  The local show features interviews with several prominent Wisconsinites who attended the march, including Vel Phillips and David Newby.

Our interview with Joanne Williams also includes archival sound from Congressman John Lewis, the last remaining speaker at the march who is alive today.