4. Fundraiser for The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963)
According to Jonathan Gill, author of Harlem, the history of the March on Washington “has never properly acknowledged the essential role that Harlemites including A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin played.” As King planned his major 1963 Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., he realized his efforts might collide with Randolph’s rally against economic inequality, which featured the country’s leading labor unions. The two joined forces, recognizing the wisdom of connecting the two issues, as King did for the rest of his career. Rustin coined the title “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” and he served as the lead fundraiser and logistics manager for the March.
Less than a week before the march, Tony Bennett (who participated in the march) headlined a fundraiser for the event on a bill that also featured Count Basie and Stevie Wonder. Even back in 1963, you could count on New York City to put together a star-studded benefit concert.