“City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign” will be on display from Saturday, January 15th through Monday, February 28th, 2022 in The Bramlage and Willcoxon Foundation Gallery inside Joplin Public Library.
This Smithsonian-created poster exhibition honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final and most ambitious vision that each U.S. citizen have equal access to economic opportunities and the American dream. It examines the Poor People’s Campaign, a grassroots, multiracial movement that drew thousands of people to Washington, D.C. for 43 days between May and June 1968, where demonstrators demanded social reforms while living side-by-side on the National Mall in a tent city known as Resurrection City.
Although President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in 1964, tens of millions of Americans were denied livable wages, adequate housing, nutritious food, quality
education, and healthcare. Led by Drs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) organized the Poor People’s Campaign in
response to poverty as a national human rights issue. Stretching 16 acres along the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, Resurrection City housed 3,000
protesters with structures for essential services like sanitation, communications, medical care, and childcare. It included a dining tent, cultural center, and a city hall along the encampment’s
bustling “Main Street.”
The Poor People’s Campaign marked an important moment in U.S. history and set the stage for future social justice movements. Within months after Resurrection City’s evacuation,
major strides were made toward economic equality, influencing school lunch programs, rent subsidies, home ownership assistance for low-income families, education and welfare
services through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and more.
Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “City of
Hope” highlights a series of newly discovered photographs and an array of protest signs and political buttons collected during the campaign. Featuring 18 posters, the exhibition will help
visitors engage and contextualize the Poor People’s Campaign’s historical significance and present-day relevance.