More than 100 women representing organizations such as the National Council of Negro Women, the League of Women Voters and the Coalition of Labor Union Women gathered Thursday, Aug. 22 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill Hotel in Northwest to discuss the “HerStory” of women in the 1963 March on Washington, the social and political challenges they faced, and those that current women leaders contend with today.
“We know our brothers did great work 50 years ago,” said Melanie L. Campbell, a moderator of one of the event’s panels and president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “But the sisters, in my opinion, did even greater work.”
The event was hosted by the Black Women’s Roundtable, the National Action Network, the Feminist Majority Foundation, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and the National Organization for Women.
“I was 15 when I marched,” recalled Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute in Northwest. “I’m from South Carolina. My mother placed me with my uncle in Philadelphia because she thought I would get a better education there.”
“He said I couldn’t go to the march. He was worried and scared. A lot of our folks were worried and scared back then.” Brown told her uncle the day before the march that she was spending the night at a friend’s house, and the friend told her parents that she was spending the night with Brown. The two girls caught a Greyhound bus to Washington, D.C. At the National Mall, the girls couldn’t see over the crowds. “So my friend gave me a boost and I climbed a tree. Someone else gave my friend a boost to climb a tree. When we climbed higher, we saw a lot of ‘tree birds’ like us.”