The Day Hollywood Marched With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Baptist minister and social activist Martin Luther King, Jr. faced many challenges while helping lead the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King, who was known for his marches in pursuit of equal rights for African Americans, would eventually get a helping hand from the luminaries of Hollywood in 1963. When King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech," among those in the audience were some of Hollywood's most prominent celebrities, who showed their support and helped ensure the media would be there to cover the event.

Singer and activist Harry Belafonte would work with King to arrange to have actors, directors, musicians, and performers of all kinds fly to out to Washington, D.C. to join King for the march, per Real Clear Politics. Belafonte soon chartered a plane and had some of the biggest names of all time aboard. Those who attended the event included Sammy Davis Jr., Ruby Dee, Sidney Poitier, James Garner, Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston, and Paul Newman — even baseball great Jackie Robinson and novelist James Baldwin joined.

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Hollywood create historic change

On August 28, 1963, the day of King's speech, there were 200,000-300,000 participants, per History. Over 3,000 of them were journalists and members of the press, says Town and Country. Sammy Davis Jr. said of the event: "I think it was the most American day in the history of our country, save for perhaps the Battle of Bunker Hill. Or, maybe the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It's to be put on that level, for me." Celebrities would meet at Lincoln Memorial. Thousands in the crowd could be seen all along the reflecting pool, some dipping their feet in to cool off, other members spilling out into all areas just to hear King's speech.

Bob Dylan, who was only 22 at the time, sang songs and played his guitar — some of the songs he played were: "The Times They Are A-Changin'," "When the Ship Comes In," and "Only A Pawn In Their Game." Joan Baez would also sing along with Dylan and perform, helping the crowd's energy grow in support for the momentous day. According to actor James Garner, the night before, an FBI agent called all of the celebrities who were supposed to attend and warned them not to show up.

As we can see, they all still came and change was made. However, it was Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech (on YouTube) that was the turning point and helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.