Washington, D.C.

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Capital of the United States since 1791, the District of Columbia had a history of racial tension between Blacks and whites as a consequence of a long-established free Black population that stood in contrast to the status of enslaved Blacks. This free Black community played a significant part in the uplift movement aimed at the amelioration of the condition of former enslaved Blacks in the South. With a majority Black population, and as the seat of the nation's government, the District ultimately became a center of Black life, including various movements striving to improve social, economic, and political conditions. It has been, in the modern era, a site of Black mass protests targeted at influencing U.S. government policies. Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph planned the first such march in 1941. Its goal was to secure for Blacks greater access to jobs recently made available by the war effort. The 1963 march remembered for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s stirring speech had the intention of influencing the passage of civil rights legislation; it was the largest demonstration held in the capital up to that time. The Nation of Islam did not participate in either march, and Malcolm X derided the latter as a circus. A Nation of Islam mosque had been active in Washington since TKTK.