This Day in Black History: May 11, 1968

The Poor People's Campaign Arrives in Washington, D.C.

Posted: 05/11/2013 08:30 AM EDT

The Poor People's Campaign was the brainchild of Marion Wright, then-director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in Mississippi, and sanctioned by Martin Luther King Jr. "as the next chapter in the struggle for genuine equality." The plan was to bring thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., to demand that government officials offer equal opportunity through jobs and a fair minimum wage, and to highlight the struggle for equality among people of all races. After days on the road, caravans of people arrived in the nation's capital on May 11, 1968.

"This is a highly significant event, the beginning of a new cooperation, understanding and a determination by poor people of all colors and backgrounds to assert their right to a decent life and respect for their culture and dignity," King said at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference meeting to plan the campaign, which included a march through the capital.

Sadly, King never got to participate. He was assassinated weeks before it was to take place. But his widow, Coretta Scott King, and other civil rights leader were determined to continue where King had left off. In addition to organizing a march that took place on May 12, protesters built Resurrection City on the National Mall, where they settled until forced out on June 24.

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(Photo: Vernon Matthews/Commercial Appeal /Landov)

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