Poor People's Campaign

View item information

Series of WSB-TV newsfilm clips of activities organized for Poor People's Campaign participants visiting Atlanta and a Poor People's Campaign rally with speakers Coretta Scott King, Ralph D. Abernathy and Hosea Williams, Atlanta, Georgia, 1968 May 9.

After Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, the fate of his final cause, the Poor People's Campaign, faced an uncertain future. As chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King committed the organization's resources to the Poor People's Campaign in 1967, in response to the string of urban riots in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The campaign goal was to emphasize the plight of the poor and to push lawmakers to pass federal legislation to improve their economic and social conditions. Following King's assassination, Ralph Abernathy took over leadership of the SCLC and vowed to continue work on the Poor People's Campaign in memory of his fallen colleague.

In May 1968, demonstrators descended on Washington, D.C., where they lived in Resurrection City, an elaborate encampment set up on the National Mall. For the next six weeks, thousands poured into Resurrection City and staged daily demonstrations at government offices. Despite efforts of organizers and participants, the Poor People's Campaign and their march on Washington failed to garner the intended response from legislators. On June 19, 1968, following a demonstration at Lincoln Memorial, Resurrection City closed and the Poor People's Campaign reached an uneventful end.