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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Cap worn by Roy Wilkins during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963
Cap worn by Roy Wilkins during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963

Wilkins began his civil rights career in 1934 as editor of The Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. From 1955 to 1977 he served as the organization's executive director and was a leading organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, Wilkins was praised by President Lyndon Johnson for helping "stir the Nation's conscience." In 1980, shortly before his death, Wilkins donated mementos from his career to the Smithsonian—the first major donation of artifacts associated with an African American civil rights leader.

See also: African American History, Civil Rights Movement, Hats, Political Protest

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