When President Truman asked Congress for a peacetime draft law that contained no provision to ban segregation in the armed forces, it allowed Randolph to reignite the battle for civil rights. He announced that LNCD would accept nothing less than an executive order against military segregation. Again Randolph and other leaders had a meeting with the President. Truman did not take likely to Randolph's demands, and the meeting did not last long. Feeling snubbed by the President, Randolph started a new campaign, this time urging young black men to refuse to register. (This idea caused a stir in the generally conservative Black organizational leadership.) Fortunately, since it was an election year, and Truman was vulnerable to defeat and needed the support of the growing Afrikan American population in northern states, he eventually capitulated. On July 26, 1948, President Truman abolished racial segregation in the armed forces through Executive Order 9981.
Randolph was again victorious. And again, like in 1941, Rustin felt that Randolph was selling out the struggle when Randolph decided to disband the LNCD. Rustin argued that to disband would be unfair to those "conscientious objectors" who had followed the LNCD dictate, and were subsequently imprisoned. The LNCD should argue for the release of such prisoners and moreover, it should ask for an "unconditional law stating that non-segregation in military service is the national policy." Randolph maintained that the organization's specific demands had been met, so there was no longer a need for the organization. After a bit of fanfare, the LNCD eventually did disband, and without adequately addressing Rustin's concerns.
Before the 1963 March, Randolph and Rustin were instrumental in a number of activities, most notably the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was the first major protest to follow the Supreme Court ruling in 1954 (that outlawed segregated schools). The Montgomery Bus Boycott was organized by E.D. Nixon, who had been a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and was influenced by Randolph’s methods of non-violent confrontation. He was also the most powerful black man in Montgomery: in addition to being a union member and organizer for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, he was president of the local NAACP chapter. Nixon selected a newcomer to the area to lead the boycott, his name was Martin Luther King Jr. Randolph along with the Fellowship for Reconciliation arranged for Rustin to go to Alabama and teach King how to organize peaceful demonstrations and how to form alliances with progressive whites. According to Rustin, "I think it's fair to say that Dr. King's view of non-violent tactics was almost non-existent when the boycott began. In other words, Dr. King was permitting himself and his children and his home to be protected by guns." Rustin convinced King to abandon the armed protection, including a personal handgun. He counseled King to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence, and served as King's main advisor and mentor throughout his early activism.
Randolph and Rustin also formed important alliances with King after the bus boycott. On January 10, 1957, after consultations with Rustin, Ella Baker, and others, King invited about 60 black ministers and leaders to Ebenezer Church in Atlanta to discuss ideas for a new organization. It was Rustin that drew up the blueprints for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLS). Later that year when schools in the south resisted school integration, Randolph organized a Prayer Pilgrimage with King. In 1958 and 1959, Randolph organized Youth Marches for Integrated Schools in Washington, DC. Randolph finally realized his March on Washington (for Jobs and Freedom) on August 28, 1963. The March would be the high-point of the civil rights movement.
Rustin and Randolph conceived the March on Washington in the Harlem office of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Randolph became the national director, while Rustin was the national organizer. Randolph and Rustin closed the event, with Rustin slowly reading the list of demands. The two concluded by urging attendees to take various actions in support of the struggle. One stated purposes of the March was to support the civil rights bill introduced into Congress by the Kennedy Administration (and after the March, the speakers traveled to the White House for a brief discussion of the proposed civil rights legislation with the President). The Kennedy Administration faced entrenched opposition to the bill, but the mobilization—and Kennedy’s assassination later that year—made passage of the legislation a reasonable possibility. And the fruits of the movement finally came to fruition when in 1964 and 1965, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed respectively. There is no denying King's leadership and the role he played in the civil right movement, but it is also hard to underestimate the importance of Randolph's influence on King, and Randolph's contributions to Afrikan American history.
As we commemorate the '63 March, and while the various speakers offer glowing accounts of the event that occurred 50 years ago, we must remember that Afrikan American continue to suffer, and that that suffering is even greater today. Grant, we are no longer legally circumscribed within a second-class existence; but within that Jim Crow existence, in some ways we had more and did more with less, than we do today. This is the only way we can interpret the EPI's report. Though the first Black President, Barack Obama, will talk about the progress this nation has made, know that he is being misleading; and know that he being so intentionally--he has the data. So, as you watch, know that the '63 March had enough "teeth" to get two congressional acts passed. Whether or not those acts fully accomplished what they were intended to, at least they offered hope or a sense of accomplishment. What will this commemorative event do? It will continue the myth of "progress" and further delude many into thinking that a post-racial America exist.