University Health Explores A Smithsonian Poster Exhibition - “City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign”
The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion department of University Health presents "City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People's Campaign". The poster exhibition from the Smithsonian 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, demonstrators demanded social reforms while living side-by-side on the National Mall in a tent city known as Resurrection City.
Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the Smithsonian 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.
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 and home ownership assistance for low-income families, education and welfare services through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and more.
In keeping with recent initiatives to increase economic prosperity for its employees, the poster exhibition and related public programs are an opportunity for University Health to highlight its values by sharing the many stories—local and national—of social justice, civic engagement, and the American story. This is particularly relevant during these times of food and housing insecurity magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules.
University Health wants you take the time to peruse the exhibition, and learn more about the range and the impact of the last of Martin Luther King’s social justice initiatives. Enjoy!