In an opinion piece on the USA Today website, Philip Klinkner, the James S. Sherman Professor of Government , explained that although Americans have come to see the March on Washington as a turning point in our history, most white Americans saw it as a profoundly unsettling, even dangerous event, coming in the summer of 1963 in the midst of an unprecedented level of racial conflict. He pointed out that an August 1963 Gallup poll found that 60 percent of Americans disapproved of the march. His essay appeared online and in several regional papers on Aug. 17.
Concluding his essay, Klinkner wrote, “Eventually, America passed historic civil rights legislation in the ensuing years, but less out of a commitment to morality and American ideals than out of a desire maintain social stability and America’s global dominance. Over the last 50 years, America has made amazing progress toward racial equality, but it has yet to fully realize Reverend King’s dream. To do so will require, now as then, more than just words, but constant pressure and struggle.”