Chapter 9Inspire Greatness

Anyone who has visited Washington, DC, in the summer can attest to the fact that it can be brutally hot and humid. I first learned about this during my officer training for the Marine Corps. Prior to arriving—and almost daily while attending officer candidates school and the six-month-long basic school in Quantico, which is just outside of DC—we were briefed on the all the precautions we should be taking to prevent heat injury. The heat alone could be enough to deter many people from attending an all-day, outdoor event on an August day in DC.

There were other, rather convincing reasons to miss out on one particular outdoor event in August—a march on the nation's capitol. One was the fact that many people would have to travel for hours to arrive, and they didn't have their own transportation. Another was that authorities of many types were warning people not to attend the event because they expected it to be very dangerous due to racial tensions.

It was also no easy task to invite all the people who should be there. There was no e-mail at this time, or Facebook, or website people could visit for details. The most cost-effective way to invite people was via word of mouth.

But something interesting happened on the morning of August 28, 1963. People came. Lots of them. Despite having to travel up to eight hours by bus, and despite being told that it might be unsafe, people from many ethnic groups came from many places near and far. Religious leaders from ...

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