Monday, Aug. 28, marks the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington. The 1963 event was perhaps the most powerful and enduring moment of the Civil Rights Movement. Most of us remember the march for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but the full story behind the march is not as well-known. Here are six things you might not know about the March on Washington.

A. Philip Randolph came up with the idea to march on Washington in 1941

Before King was even born, Asa Philip Randolph was actively organizing and fighting for the rights and betterment of Black America. A labor leader who once ran for office with the Socialist Party, A. Philip Randolph, as he was known, organized the nation’s first officially recognized Black trade union — the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters — in 1925. By 1941, Randolph was threatening a march on Washington to protest wartime segregation, which led President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue an order banning discrimination within the defense industry. Randolph later pressured President Harry S. Truman into desegregating the military. In 1957, Randolph returned to the idea of a large event in Washington, organizing nearly 25,000 people coming to the city for the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, which featured a keynote address by a young Martin Luther King Jr. Finally, Randolph served as the head of the efforts to organize the 1963 march, and his influence put jobs and economic empowerment among the top demands made at that event.

The “Big Six” put aside their differences to make the march happen

Randolph and King were far from the only major forces behind the March on Washington. In addition to King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, four other major organizations worked together to organize the march: the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Congress of Racial Equality and the National Urban League. Together with Randolph and King, the leaders of these groups formed the Big Six who came together in the summer of 1963 to plan the unprecedented gathering that was to take place. These organizations, which did much of the organizing for the march in a townhouse in Harlem, found a way to cooperate by putting aside tactical and personal differences, such as the NAACP’s focus on legal action, CORE’s links to business, or tensions between SNCC and SCLC over King’s prominence in the overall movement. The leaders also put aside generational divides; Randolph was 74 at the time of the march, while SNCC Chairman John Lewis was only 23.

Bayard Rustin organized the march from behind the scenes

While Randolph was the driving force behind marching on Washington and King its most prominent public face, the actual planning of the event was largely done by their longtime collaborator, Bayard Rustin. Randolph and Rustin had long worked together, with Rustin being a key organizer of the proposed 1941 march and the 1957 prayer event. Having worked with King in 1957, Rustin became a mentor to the young preacher, teaching him much about nonviolent resistance. But Rustin’s personal life — he was a former Communist and openly gay, later becoming an LGBTQ rights advocate — limited his ability to publicly lead the growing Civil Rights Movement. Thus, his work, including organizing the 1963 march, was largely conducted behind the scenes.

Other advocates for Black rights opposed the march

Even though the organizers of the march were able to set aside their differences, other advocates for Black rights were not on board. In a reflection from people involved in the planning process that was recently published in The New York Times, one SCLC worker recalled members of the Nation of Islam removing flyers for the event, as the Nation opposed the integrationist goal of the march organizers. Another ally, President John F. Kennedy, also initially tried to discourage the march, fearing that it would end in violence and that this would endanger civil rights legislation. Kennedy was ultimately relieved when the march happened peacefully, and met with several of its leaders after it concluded.

The march was a star-studded event

While the march was the brainchild of a variety of activists and organizations, it was also an event that brought out some of the biggest stars in the country. Harry Belafonte was a major force in bringing celebrities to the march, convincing Randolph, Rustin and King that star power would help spread the message. Ossie Davis, who attended alongside Ruby Dee, was heavily involved in the planning as well. Led by Belafonte, the celebrities who came to the march included Sammy Davis Jr., Mahalia Jackson, James Baldwin and Diahann Carrol. But the list was not limited to Black celebrities; Bob Dylan, Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Rita Moreno and Joanne Woodward all attended. Performers at the march included Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary.

The “I Have a Dream” Speech Was Not Always The Plan

As it was decided that King would give the keynote address at the march, he had been working on his speech for some time. The preacher wrote multiple versions of the address, none of which exactly matched what he said on Aug. 28. He had also talked about his dream in previous speeches and sermons, including a 1962 speech at a high school gym in North Carolina and a version he had delivered in Detroit. During the March on Washington, the first half of the speech King gave was very substantive, highlighting the civil and economic inequalities that Black people continued to face, but wasn’t quite rousing the crowds the way organizers intended. Mahalia Jackson, familiar with his Detroit speech, called out to King from behind the podium, yelling, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” King, an experienced preacher, responded by going back to the words he had spoken at those earlier occasions, and thus the country was introduced to what became one of the nation’s most famous and inspiring speeches.

Sixty years later, Kings words and the hard work of numerous people and organizations still resonate. And given the remaining challenges, ranging from economic inequality to deadly racist violence, the message of the March on Washington remains as important as ever.