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Traveling Smithsonian Exhibition to Highlight 1968 Poor People's Campaign

A new traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian illuminates the often-overlooked history of the multicultural movement that confronted poverty and redefined social justice and activism in America. “Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign” will begin a national tour at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, a Smithsonian Affiliate, May 14. The final crusade of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, the Poor People’s Campaign was launched in his honor at a memorial service led by Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy at the Lorraine Motel May 2, 1968. 

“Solidarity Now!” features photographs, oral histories with campaign participants and organizers, and an array of protest signs, political buttons and audio field recordings collected during the campaign. The exhibition explores the significance of the tactics and impact of this campaign that drew thousands of people to build a protest community on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For nearly six weeks, they inhabited “a city of hope” on 15 acres between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to call the nation’s attention to the crippling effects of poverty for millions of Americans. The protest site was called Resurrection City.

Through a 3D map of Resurrection City, visitors can examine the planned spaces for housing, a cultural center, city hall, theater stage and essential services, including facilities for food and dining, sanitation, communications, education, medical and dental care, and childcare. 

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Solidarity Now!” will be on view in Memphis through July 24 before continuing a 10-city national tour. Future stops include The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas; the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Cincinnati; the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Jackson; the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe; Washington State History Museum in Tacoma; and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Visit sites.si.edu for tour details. 

Read entire article at The City Life