chapter  5
The March on Washington Movement and National Level Protest During the Second World War
WithOliver Ayers
Pages 30

Chapter Five examines the history of the March on Washington Movement (MOWM) and other national civil rights organizations during the Second World War. The chapter analyses the background to the MOWM, including A. Philip Randolph’s departure from the National Negro Congress (NNC) in 1940 and also considers the related stories of the wartime work of the NAACP and Randolph’s next venture, the National Council for a Permanent FEPC (NCPFEPC). Different organizations accepted the fresh importance of economic concerns but retained distinctive outlooks on the implications of this change. Although it initially focused squarely on tackling discrimination in defence employment, the MOWM’s agenda broadened as it tried to establish itself as a permanent national organization. This diversification of goals was understandable but created tensions with other groups like the NAACP. Randolph eventually created a new organization, the NCPFEPC, that attempted to return to the march’s original target but through the method of legislative lobbying rather than mass pressure. The stories of these national groups demonstrated the potential of coordinated campaigns but also the difficulties of sustaining collaborative approaches.