Black History Month: Archie Spigner Pushed His Union To Send Buses To The March On Washington
As part of NY1's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, NY1's Ruschell Boone sat down with a former Queens City Councilman and activist who described his experience and how it impacted his own work in the civil rights movement.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Archie Spigner said he felt like it took a long time for him to arrive at the March on Washington.
"We left early in the morning on a bus, and we rode for seemingly forever," he said. "And then, we got to Washington D.C., and then we had a long walk. And then, we arrived at the mall with all those thousands and thousands of people."
Once he saw the crowd, Spigner said he realized the March on Washington would not be like any protest he had ever seen before.
Spigner is the District Leader for the Guy Brewer Democratic Club, but in 1963, he was a budding activist.
"I think that was probably the first mass march of any significance," he said. "It got the attention of the press. It got the attention of America. It was heard around the world."
The march was organized by the head of the Negro American Labor Council. As a Queens bus driver and member of the council, Spigner pushed the leader of his white-run union to send buses to Washington.
"He had to respond to his growing African-American membership and the fact that he served a growing African-American community at that time in Jamaica and Southeast Queens," he said.
The union chartered two buses.
Speaking with a club member, Spigner said most activists jumped at the chance to call for civil and economic rights for African-Americans.
"We listened to great speeches, one after the other," Spinger said. "The most memorable and the most striking was that given by the late Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King."
There is a specific line from Dr. King's speech that has stayed with him.
"Little black boys and little black girls will, you know, come together, regardless of race, color or creed," he said. "That struck me as a real goal to work towards."
Eleven years later, Spigner became the first black City Councilman from Queens. He served for nearly three decades until term limits forced him out.
In 2005, a St. Albans post office was renamed in his honor.
Spigner said that African-Americans have made great strides since that historic march, but he believes the fight for equality is not over.