I Cared I Was There. Illinois Rally for Civil Rights [cover title]. African Americana, Civil Rights, Martin Luther King Jr.
I Cared I Was There. Illinois Rally for Civil Rights [cover title]

I Cared I Was There. Illinois Rally for Civil Rights [cover title]

Chicago: 1964. [6]pp. on a single tri-folded sheet. Old creases, minor toning and dust-soiling. Very good. Item #2662

A very rare program for the Illinois Rally for Civil Rights, which took place at Soldier Field in Chicago on June 21, 1964. At the time it was held, the rally was the second largest Civil Rights demonstration in American history after the March on Washington the previous year. Like the March, the keynote address of the day's activities was also delivered by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.; Dr. King's portrait is printed on the front cover of the present flyer and is the only visual element anywhere on it. The event was co-chaired by Edwin C. Berry of the Chicago Urban League and Rev. Edgar H.S. Chandler of the Church Federation of Greater Chicago, both of whom spoke during the rally; Berry even introduced Dr. King. Among the other events on the program was a performance by Mahalia Jackson and the 5,000-member Mass Choir; greetings from leaders of CORE, the National Urban League, SNCC, and the NAACP; remarks by Father Theodore Hesburgh, the president of Notre Dame; and speeches by other local Chicago religious leaders.

In addition to the schedule of events, the flyer lists the text for the four-part "Pledge to Action for Civil Rights," one page listing the "Rally Officers," one-and-a-half pages listing the sponsoring organizations for the rally, and a half-page "Pledge to Work for Civil Rights and Human Dignity for All Americans" intended to be filled out, cut out, and presumably dropped in a box at the rally (this one blank).

Dr. King's speech on that sweltering summer day in Chicago acknowledged the imminent passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but also focused on the fact that there was still much to accomplish for the Civil Rights Movement. King spoke from the dais in Chicago that, "We have come a long, long way in the civil rights struggle, but let me remind you that we have a long, long way to go. Passage of the civil rights bill does not mean that we have reached the promised land in civil rights...."

Father Hesburgh echoed King’s sentiments that the fight was not yet won: "A long road and a hot summer are ahead of us. Every Negro American who does not use his opportunity now is a traitor to his race. Be proud to be a Negro. Demand respect by being worthy of respect. We want to strive for human dignity with you."

"The rally, whose operating costs reached $25,000, opened with two hours of jazz and gospel music and entertainment, including a 5000-voice choir led by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. General admission was free, but priority seating was available for $2-5. Nearly 150 various organizations promoted the event, distributing 1.5 million flyers in Chicago, and brought their members to the rally by the bus-full. A crowd estimated between 57,000-75,000 people of diverse walks of life, races, and faiths endured early rain and later sweltering heat in Soldier Field, standing in solidarity of racial equality" - Notre Dame Archives.

No individually-catalogued copies reported in OCLC, though a few copies appear in museum collections and some may certainly exist within larger archival holdings. OCLC does not have any records of the variant of this flyer either, headed "If You Care, Be There," likely distributed before the rally. The present example, which begins, "I Cared I Was There," was likely passed out on the day of the event.

Notre Dame Archives: "Illinois Rally for Civil Rights 1964," Notre Dame Archives News & Notes, published online on June 21, 2014, http://archives.nd.edu/about/news/index.php/2014/illinois-rally/.

Price: $1,000.00