Past Special Exhibitions

City of Hope

Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People's Campaign

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched The Poor People's Campaign — a national, multiethnic, multicultural movement to demand equal access to economic opportunities and security for all people.


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 2018 - 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 poster exhibition for educational use. To request a downloadable digital version of the poster exhibition and for more information, please visit the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

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.