As the United States emerged in the 1960s as a global model of wealth and democracy, an estimated 35 million Americans lived in poverty.

From the elderly and underemployed to children and persons with disabilities, poverty affected people of every race, age, and region. Although President Lyndon B. Johnson had declared a “war on poverty” in 1964, social inequalities and unequal access to opportunities left many Americans struggling.

In response, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy, organized a Poor People’s Campaign to confront poverty as a national human rights issue. As a multiethnic movement, the six-week, live-in demonstration in Washington, D.C., attracted protesters nationwide to mark a new era in American history. 

The 1968 Poor People's Campaign would be the final vision of King’s life and perhaps his most ambitious dream.

Exhibition Experience

  • The Great Society
    President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" and the "War on Poverty"
  • Mobilizing Communities
    The nationwide tour to recruit participants to campaign for an “Economic Bill of Rights.”
  • Life at Resurrection City
    Creating communal spaces was key to helping protesters develop a shared sense of purpose.
  • Impact: 1968 - Today
    Bringing race, ethnicity, age, gender, and socioeconomic issues into the national discourse.

About the Exhibition

Previously on view at the National Museum of American History from December 2017 - February 2019, City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s daring vision to end poverty in the United States. With newly discovered photographs and videos, the exhibition encouraged visitors to explore this important chapter in U.S. history.

The exhibition is now available as a traveling exhibition and as a poster exhibition for educational use. For more information and to request a downloadable digital version of the poster exhibition, please visit Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People's Campaign.

Join the conversation #CityOfHope1968

This exhibition honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his struggle for economic justice. See newly discovered photographs, watch videos from our oral history project and explore this important chapter in history. Join the conversation on Twitter using #CityOfHope1968 and check out our Twitter Moment.

Explore More From Our Collection

Discover photographs, videos, oral history recordings, objects, and more from Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign in the Museum's online collection.

Curator: Aaron Bryant: 

Image of the Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick holding a guitar.
The Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick holding a guitar. Kirkpatrick led cultural programs at Resurrection City during the Poor People's Campaign.
A Mule Train from Mississippi going through the city of Washington, D.C. June, 1968 one of the 1968 Poor People's Campaign caravans.
A group of individuals erecting a series of temporary shelters in Resurrection City on the National Mall.
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