Pike School of Art and the McComb School District Explores 1968 Poor People’s Campaign With Smithsonian Poster Exhibition

Pike School of Art and the McComb School District presents City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign October 19, 2019 through November 9, 2019 at the McComb School District Mall Space at Edgewood Mall at 1722 Veterans Blvd, McComb, MS 39648. There will be a public reception on October 19th from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. The exhibition will be open Saturdays from 12:00 to 4:00 PM till November 9, 2019.

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 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. 

On the closing day of the exhibition, November 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM, please join us for a screening of Dr. Emilye Crosby’s lecture, Teaching the Civil Rights Movement from the Bottom-Up 50 Years After the Voting Rights Act. This lecture highlights the bottom-up movement history and the ways it introduced students to a wider range of tactics and to a history that began before the big marches and extended after the passage of landmark legislation. In this lecture, Dr. Crosby discusses the role of activists from McComb, Mississippi in what, according to Bob Moses and scholar Charles Payne, has become known as “the organizing tradition.”

The poster exhibition and related public programs are an opportunity for Pike School of Art – Mississippi and McComb School District to highlight our work in sharing the many stories—local and national—of social justice, civic engagement, and the American story.

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, visit www.sites.si.edu

A caravan bus from Newark, New Jersey, 1968 Robert Houston, born 1935
Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Robert Houston

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