March on Washington: Musical highlights

Folk and gospel music played a crucial role in 1963’s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Here are videos with several highlights from the event’s performances by Peter, Paul and Mary; Bob Dylan; Joan Baez; Mahalia Jackson; Odetta; and Marian Anderson.

Peter Paul and Mary

"If I Had a Hammer"

The folk trio scored its first Top 10 hit single in 1962 with this song written by folk music veterans Pete Seeger and Lee Hays of the Weavers. Singer Trini Lopez had an even bigger hit with it -- his version reached No. 3 a few weeks before Peter, Paul and Mary sang it in Washington, D.C.

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Peter, Paul and Mary

"Blowin' In the Wind"

The trio was the first act to put a Bob Dylan song into the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with this composition that became an anthem for social change in the 1960s. It peaked at No. 2 the week before the March on Washington.

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Bob Dylan and Joan Baez

"When the Ship Comes In"

Dylan’s metaphorical song about a ship arriving safely home after an arduous journey over stormy seas hadn’t been released yet when he and Baez teamed up to sing it for the civil rights demonstrators.

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Mahalia Jackson

"How I Got Over"

Jackson was a powerful presence in the black community through her network radio show of the 1950s and regular television appearances. She chose this song of spiritual triumph over earthly adversity to sing from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

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Musical highlights

This 25-minute compilation highlights most of the major musical performances from the march by Mahalia Jackson; Peter, Paul and Mary; Bob Dylan and Joan Baez; Odetta; opera singer Marian Anderson; and the Eva Jessye Choir.

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March on Washington overview

This 33-minute clip was originally assembled by the U.S. Information Agency to provide an overview of the day, including footage of several musical performances and an excerpt of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I Have a Dream" speech.

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By Randy Lewis