Detroit: Sunday, June 23, 1963

Dress rehearsal for “I Have a Dream”

Aundra Willis Carrasco
6 min readJun 24, 2024
Aerial view of Detroit citizens marching down Woodward Avenue toward Cobo Hall.
A segment of Detroit marchers, numbering over 125,000, gathered in solidarity for civil rights.

Sixty-one years ago, on Sunday, June 23, 1963, the dress rehearsal for the March on Washington took place in Detroit, Michigan. Historians rarely mention it. It’s one of the little-known and rarely reported facts about the events that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. But for those of us who were there, although half a century has flown by, images burn bright in our memories of a time and place in our youth when we were galvanized as “foot soldiers” — actively engaged on the battlefield, demanding racial equality. Participating along with a multitude of thousands on that great historic day is a treasured memory I am pleased to share. This is the way I remember The Great March On Detroit.

Official program announcing the event.

To say that these were very turbulent times would be overstating the obvious. But in 1963, in the United States of America, Negroes in Southern states were living under what was tantamount to law-enforced terrorism. Where else in this country could a group of vicious…