On 5th April 1920, hundreds of blind and partially sighted people from across the country began a march to London in the name of equality.
Led by the National League of the Blind, groups of marchers set off for London from Newport, Manchester and Leeds in order to meet with the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, and demand fairer working conditions and legal rights for blind people.
Their action led to a significant change in disability rights and was directly linked to the formation of the Blind Person’s Act 1920 – the world’s first disability-specific legislation, and an early precursor to today’s Equality Act 2010.
Now, 100 years later, we are asking people to use their one exercise a day to remember this event and take their own steps for equality.
In 2020, we are virtually following the progress of the March 100 years ago with a series of updates to this page.
April 5 - In 1920, groups of marchers set off on their long trek to London from Newport, Manchester and Leeds.
April 15 - All the groups of marchers, having joined together at Leicester, started off towards Market Harborough in Leicestershire.
April 17 - The original groups of marchers made their way to Northampton and Wellingborough in the midlands.
April 20 - Marchers arrived in Luton.
April 25 - Marchers arrived in central London at Trafalgar Square.
The Blind March 2020 tribute video
As a tribute to the achievements of the 1920s marchers, we have created a video featuring original footage from 100 years ago and contributions from modern day campaigners taking their own steps for equality.
Media reactions - 100 years ago - "Our fight is just beginning"
The demonstration to welcome to London 250 blind marchers, who have tramped 200 miles to draw attention to the conditions of the blind everywhere, was one of the biggest seen in Trafalgar Square in years and one of the most prophetic.
While the scene on the men’s arrival on Saturday, many in stages of exhaustion, when emotional women rained kisses on the drawn faces were memorable, yesterday's proceedings, though more restrained, were unforgettable.
Yesterday was THE day of the blind; it was also the day of Labour fancifully. All London’s organised workers were represented in the procession, which was nearly three quarters of an hour, passing the plinth into the square - and when there - they left not a morsel of space right up to the National Gallery.
Daily Herald, April 26 1920
With drums beating, banners flying and sounds from toy trumpets and a tuneful a compliment of mouth organs and other instruments, the blind marchers arrived in London yesterday. They have come to lay their case before the Prime Minister and urge the provision of maintenance grants for the aged and work and training for those who can do it.
An offer of Mr Bonalaw to deputise for the absent premier has been rejected, and they have sent a telegram to say they are going to await Mr Lloyd George’s return and give him an opportunity of fulfilling his pledge of last July to receive this deputation.
Manchester Guardian, April 26, 1920
"It is clear our fight is just beginning," said one of the deputation of the blind after the interview with the Prime Minister yesterday.
Daily Herald, May 1, 1920
Take part on social media
Record a video of yourself taking your steps for equality. Tell us why you’re joining the march and what equality means to you.
If you can, take a stroll down the street or walk around your garden, otherwise just pace up and down in your living room.
Share your video on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #BlindMarch.
You can also join us as a volunteer campaigner to follow in the footsteps of these trailblazers. Together we can continue to break down barriers to equality and make history. Join us today.
More about the marchers
According to the Daily Herald in 1920 David Baxter Lawley, a British trade unionist and political activist, who was one of the leaders of the march was "one of the most effective of a really capable body of speakers".
Best known as an activist for the rights of blind people, Baxter Lawley, from Blackburn, captained the contingent of marchers from Leeds.
Also on the march was Ben Purse, who was behind the formation of the National League of the Blind in 1899. The National League of the Blind became affiliated to the TUC in 1902 and the Labour Party in 1909. Purse was the main speaker in the marchers' delegation to Downing Street.