The freedom movement came to a head with the Selma to Montgomery March, 21-25 March 1965. While the "I Have A Dream" speech was Dr. King's greatest speech, this march was his greatest achievement. The primary focus of the Selma to Montgomery March was voting rights, as African Americans were often deterred from registering to vote through intimidation tactics. Without the ability to vote, African Americans could not be empowered. It took five days for the marchers to travel the 54-mile distance between Selma and the State Capitol in Montgomery. Because there were strong concerns that diehard white segregationists would attack the marchers, President Johnson federalized 3,900 soldiers and guardsmen as well as FBI agents and U.S. Marshalls for protection.
On August 28, 1963, an unprecendented quarter of a million people assembled in Washington DC. The magnitude of the celebrity contingent and additional supporters who gathered at the Mall at the Lincoln Memorial was overwhelming. This one-day event was the largest demonstration for human rights that the United States had ever seen. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, which still continues to reach and inspire millions of people around the world.
The Youth March for Integrated Schools was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harry Belafonte and Bayard Rustin, to help end the segragation that had manifested within American schools. On 25 October 1958, a select group of students went with Harry Belafonte and Bayard Rustin to the White House to Present a petition to the President, as is the right of every American citizen, only to have the gates slammed in their faces. This was followed by a gathering on the Mall of the Lincoln Memorial, which was to become the prototype for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom five years later.
Aspiring to be a painter and studying at the Art Students' League of New York from September 1951 until when he was drafted into the army in 1953, Dan Budnik started photographing the New York school of Abstracts Expressionist artists in the mid-fifties, making it a primary focus for several decades. He made major photo-essays on Willem de Kooning and David Smith, among many other artists. It was his teacher Charles Alston at the Art Students' League of New York, the first African-American to teach at the League, who inspired his interest in documentary photography and the budding Civil Rights Movement.