Big Six (activists)

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The Big Six refer to the chairmen, presidents, and leaders of six prominent civil rights organizations active during the height of the Civil Rights Movement who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

They are:[1][2]

In James Farmer's autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart, he identified the term "Big Six" as having originated with the founding of the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. Farmer did not include A. Philip Randolph in his listing of the "Big Six", instead listing Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women as the sixth member of the group. Farmer also noted that the press often referred to the group as the "Big Four", excluding Height and John Lewis. Farmer attributed their omission to sexism and age bias, respectively.[3]

Patrick Henry Bass, journalist and historian of the March on Washington, described the rise of these leaders to celebrity: "Increasingly, these six powerful men lived in two worlds: the political and the personal, one white, in which they were still strangers but becoming increasingly familiar with its insider/outsider rules; the other, black, where they were treated as extended members of the family."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Big Six: John Lewis and His Contemporaries". Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  2. ^ "Notable Achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr". Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
  3. ^ Farmer, James (1985). Lay Bare the Heart. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press. p. 215. ISBN 9780875651880. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Patrick Henry Bass, Like a Mighty Stream: The March on Washington, August 28, 1963; Philadelphia: Running Press, 2002; ISBN 0-7624-1292-5; p. 85.