Poor People’s Campaign Records, 1968

Poor People’s Campaign Records, 1968

Finding Aid

Collection No. 119 (1 Linear Foot)
D.C. Community Archives

*Note: Box 1 is currently undergoing digitization and is temporarily unavailable for research*


The origin of this collection is undocumented.


The Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was intended to be a weeklong march through Washington, D.C., to urge Congress to pass anti-poverty legislation to help the poor find work, health care and housing. Protesters began to march on May 12, 1968. The protesters endured weeks of rain and brutal conditions as many resided on the National Mall in makeshift shacks and tents. This site eventually became known as “Resurrection City.” The protest ended on June 24, 1968. 

Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's (SCLC) successor to the slain Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., began the Poor People's Campaign with the proclamation that "the poor are no longer divided. We are not going to let the white man put us down anymore. It's not white power, and I'll give you some news, it's not black power, either. It's poor power and we're going to use it."

The SCLC's William Rutherford later called the Poor People's Campaign the "Little Bighorn" of the Civil Rights Movement, a reference to the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn in which General George Custer fought against Native Americans and was killed. The campaign was regarded as a failure according to many journalists and historians. However, recent scholarship suggests that the campaign did have a lasting impact on hundreds of people who were introduced to interethnic organizing.

Processing Procedures

General processing procedures included removing fragile newspaper clippings from cardboard scrapbook mounts and photocopying them onto acid-free, archival-quality paper. The newspaper clippings were placed into oversized folders and housed in an oversize box. Those clippings without a discernable date are placed in their own separate folder.

Scope and Content Note

The contents of this collection include: correspondence, flyers, memorabilia, newsletters, newspaper clippings, newsletters, poems, and songs. 

Series Descriptions

Series I: Correspondence

This series contains correspondence concerning activities of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968.

Series II: Reports and Statements

This series contains congressional reports and internal memorandums regarding the work of the Poor People’s Campaign participants.

Series III: Publications

This series contains newsletters documenting activities at Resurrection City.

Series IV: Miscellaneous

This series contains brochures, programs, songs, and other items that do not pertain to any other series.

Series V:  Clippings

This series contains newspaper clippings on the Poor People’s Campaign, Resurrection City, and the funeral of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


There are no restrictions to this collection.

Box List

Series I: Correspondence

Box 1

FF1 “A Letter to Friends from D.C. Jail,” 1968
FF2 Correspondent Letter, 1968
FF3 Letter to Judge, 1968

Series II: Reports and Statements

FF4 A Report to Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Friends, 1968
FF5  Report of the Legislative Committee for the Poor People’s Campaign, 1968
FF6 William Penn Newsletter, n.d.
FF7 Summary of the Commission Report and Legislative before Congress, n.d.
FF8 Policy Statement on Poverty, Jobs, and Income, n.d.
FF9 Income Memorandum, n.d.
FF10 Action Bulletin, 1968

Series III: Newsletters

FF11 Newsletter, 1968
FF12 True Unity News of Resurrection City, 1968

Series IV: Miscellaneous

FF 13 Solidarity Day Programme, 1968
FF 14 MLK Slogans, n.d.
FF 15 Brochures, n.d.
FF 16 Resurrection City Songs, 1968
FF 17  List of Worshipers Arrested on Capitol, 1968
FF 18 Job Mobilization Support Sheet, n.d.
FF 19 True Unity Resurrection Poems, n.d.
FF 20 Flyer, n.d.

Series V: Clippings

Box 2 (Oversize)

FF 21 Clippings, 1968
FF 22 Clippings, n.d.
Compiled by David Edmonds, May 2009

DC Public Library, Special Collections
D.C. Community Archives

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