The Poor People’s CampaignHe was killed five days after he delivered the sermon at the National Cathedral. “I always told people, I learned more about people on that march than ever.” King announced a shift from “reform” to “revolution” and stated: “We have moved from the era of civil rights to an era of human rights.” The SCLC announced the campaign on December 4, 1967. Thousands of participants poured into Resurrection City and staged daily demonstrations at the offices of government officials and their agencies. The goal of the campaign was to emphasize the plight of the poor and to push the country’s lawmakers to pass federal legislation to improve the economic and social conditions of the impoverished. Further, a claim made by some Campaign members about police brutality turned out to be false, thus discrediting other claims of brutality that had been previously been made.The Poor People’s Campaign was part of the second phase of the civil rights movement. At its peak, the number of protestors reached nearly 7,000 but still far short of the expectation of 50,000 people. The Poor People’s Campaign was motivated by a desire for economic justice: the idea that all people should have what they need to live. This movement was not about saving any party. And consequently, oral history helps us challenge the so-called master, or traditional, narratives that persist in the interpretation of the black freedom struggle, the Chicano movement, and the era’s other social movements. It was first believed that the campaign did not have much effect on the United States however, more recent studies suggests that the Campaign did have a lasting impact on hundreds of people who got their first taste of interethnic organizing. Martin Luther King called for a “revolution of values” in America, inviting people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”?—?militarism, racism, and economic injustice?—?to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation to ever exist. In one of the campaign’s more important recruitment efforts, SCLC hosted about 80 representatives of other poor, often minority groups in Atlanta, with whom the civil rights organization had had little to no relationship up to that point. Martin Luther King Jr.—his last, and, in profound ways, most far reaching and challenging campaign. Whatever it may bring, the original campaign lives on in Freedman’s evocative images: the camaraderie and idealism of activism, the ways in which people worked together, the stark artistry of their political statements, and the interactions with the policemen who would eventually bring an end to the demonstrations. “We are custodians of the philosophy of nonviolence,” said King at a press conference. The purpose was to demand from the government officials “jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their living conditions. Out of respect for the campaign, his funeral procession passed through Resurrection City. Tijerina was arrested in New Mexico (on charges that had earlier been dismissed) hours before he was scheduled to leave for Washington to join the lobby. But this all began to change when she heard the call of Dr. King. Braving rain, mud, and summer heat, protesters stayed for over a month. The campaign did not immediately produce a national, multiracial alliance of the poor. But for people to view the Poor People’s Campaign – and social movements in general – through such narrow binaries is as misleading as judging American history through a black-white lens. For two months during the height of the campaign, people of Mexican descent lived and interacted daily with African Americans, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, poor whites, and each other. The result was a more unified, energized movement in the years to come. In January 1968, the SCLC created and distributed an “Economic Fact Sheet” with statistics explaining why the campaign was necessary. King avoided providing specific details about the campaign and attempted to redirect media attention to the values at stake. Although King is universally associated with civil rights and the struggles of African Americans, the original Poor People’s Campaign was an inclusive effort to alleviate the poverty of Americans of all races. In May of 1968, demonstrators descended on the nation’s capitol, arriving by foot, car, bus, horse-drawn carriage, and mule train. The comprehensive plan was as follows: Poverty Tour Empower the Poor Teach the Poor Feed the Poor By 1968, the War on Poverty seemed like a failure, neglected by a Johnson administration (and Congress) that wanted to focus on the Vietnam War and increasingly saw anti-poverty programs as primarily helping African-Americans. ”We have an ultimate goal of freedom, independence, self-determination, whatever we want to call it, but we aren’t going to get all of that now, and we aren’t going to get all of that next year,” King commented at a staff meeting on 17 January 1968. Relentless rains turned Resurrection City into a muddy sinkhole. Although King did not live to see the Poor People’s Campaign, his dream of a new March on Washington came to fruition – and Arellanes and many of her fellow activists responded. Poor people from around the country made up most of the group. Under the leadership of Dr. King during the next several years, Arellanes became an increasingly sophisticated member of the Chicano movement, in large part due to the folks that she met in Washington, with whom she ate, stood in line, and demonstrated. Tension among the demonstrators themselves caused violent outbreaks and undermined the effectiveness of PPC leadership. The assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, a presidential aspirant and one of the PPC’s principal supporters in Congress, on June 5, 1968, sealed the fate of the campaign. Resurrection City closed two weeks later on June 19, 1968, many were arrested, including Stephen Cary, and the economic bill of rights was never passed. The Poor People’s Campaign proposes a multi-faceted effort, growing out of the dire straits of the poor and led in large part by the poor themselves. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP, joined other religious and activist leaders to launch a new Poor People’s Campaign, picking up where King left off. Experiences were shared. Through nonviolent direct action, King and SCLC hoped to focus the nation’s attention on economic inequality and poverty. Since then, journalists and historians have generally agreed that the Campaign was a failure. Despite the efforts of the organizers and participants, the Poor People’s Campaign and their march on Washington failed to garner the intended response from the country’s legislators. Under the “economic bill of rights,” the Poor People’s Campaign asked for the federal government to prioritize helping the poor with a $30 billion anti-poverty package that included, among other demands, a commitment to full employment, a guaranteed annual income measure and more low-income housing. Mid-way through the campaign, Robert Kennedy, whose wife had attended the Mother’s Day opening of Resurrection City, was assassinated. Poor people in communities across America?—?black, white, brown and Native?—?responded by building a Poor People’s Campaign that would demand a Marshall Plan for America’s poor. Yet all of these interpretations rely heavily on the contemporary reports of a mainstream media seemingly obsessed with the campaign’s potential for conflict, from interethnic squabbling to outright violence. Undoubtedly, each of these arguments has some validity. The committee, composed largely of poor people, used the lobbying to get out the message of what the campaign was about and what they wanted. Drawing on the unfinished work of the Rev. The first week, May 12-29, brought a wave of nearly 5,000 demonstrators. During the second week Resurrection City was completed. “America is at a crossroads of history, and it is critically important for us as a nation and a society to choose a new path and move upon it with resolution and courage… In this age of technological wizardry and political immorality, the poor are demanding that the basic needs of people be met as the first priority of our domestic program,” he said. The protestors, people from a wide range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds—Native Americans from reservations, Latinos from the Southwest, impoverished whites from West Virginia, as well as rural and urban blacks—came together and spread the message of the campaign to various Federal agencies. They also disrupted life in Washington to try and force the government to respond. We will have a movement, beginning next May, that will bring together a minimum of 25,000 people – 1,000 per state – that will engage and will organize and will work to build power among the poor.”. After King’s assassination in April 1968, SCLC decided to go on with the campaign under the leadership of Ralph Abernathy, SCLC’s new president. Therefore, SCLC was in the planning stages of a new Poor People’s Campaign. Corky Gonzales always had said that, “The real work, building bases of power, would remain when the activists returned home.” King said, “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty”.News of King’s death spread causing violent riots to break out in many African American populated cities across the US. King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, was apprehended by authorities in London, England on On June 8 at London’s Heathrow Airport after a two-month international manhunt. Authorities found Ray’s fingerprints on the rifle used to kill King, a scope and a pair of binoculars. King, who was the nation’s foremost civil rights leader, had returned to Memphis to lead a nonviolent march in support of the city’s striking sanitation workers, the memphis sanitation strike. On April 8, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and the couple’s four small children led a crowd estimated at forty thousand in a silent march through the streets of Memphis to honor the fallen leader and support the cause of the city’s black sanitation workers. Upon his extradition to Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray later found sympathy in an unlikely place: Members of King’s family, including his son Dexter, who publicly met with Ray in 1977 and began arguing for a reopening of his case. Following a nationally televised broadcast of his funeral service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King’s body was led three-and-a-half miles through the city’s streets, with more than one hundred thousand mourners in tow, to Morehouse College where a second funeral service was performed. On March 10, 1969, Ray pleaded guilty to King’s murder, Ray was given a ninety-nine year jail sentence.The Memphis Sanitation Strike was believed by Dr. King to be his biggest failure and he returned to Memphis to finish what he had started only to be assassinated. Many of the protests ended badly leading to chaos and widespread arrests including the murder of Larry Payne, a 16-year-old boy who was marching alongside the strikers, by a police officer. Another practice that had infuriated black workers sending them home on rainy days without pay while white supervisors sat around and collected a paycheck was also ended. The needless deaths became a rallying cry for recognition of the union, of the workers’ rights, and of their basic humanity as African American men in the still segregated South. Nevertheless Dr. King took a trip to Memphis in an attempt to organize the city and speak on behalf of the sanitation workers. King was warned by many that the situation in Memphis was too volatile to resolve peacefully. No one from the city government would attend the funerals. The strike was initiated, organized and carried out by small workers and their local leaders not big higher ups in the industry. King tragically met his assassin’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. From the organizing efforts of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in early 20th century South Chicago to the courageous efforts of Cesar Chavez to organize migrant farmer workers, the labor movement has been at its best when uniting with the cause of civil rights. A shaken city finally bowed to the union’s demands and began collective bargaining. An early march through downtown Memphis garnered attention for the workers’ cause, but ended in violence as police sprayed protesters with mace. Internal conflict also weakened the campaign. The march date was postponed to May 12, 1968, though a few hundred people arrived in Washington on the original date. Protestores went on daily trips into the capitol to demand for the economic bill to be passed. In May 1967 during a SCLC retreat in Frogmore, South Carolina, King told his aides that the SCLC would have to raise nonviolence to a new level to pressure Congress into passing an Economic Bill of Rights for the nation’s poor. The plans for The Poor People’s Campaign held firm to the movement’s commitment to nonviolence. In the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, the fate of his final cause, the Poor People’s Campaign, faced an uncertain future. On April 29, 1968 the Committee began lobbying members of Congress and leaders of executive agencies. At the time of King’s death, the SCLC was planning to continue with Dr. King’s plan for a protest in the nation’s capital. Although King praised the simplicity of the campaign’s goals, saying, ”it’s as pure as a man needing an income to support his family,” he knew that the campaign was very different from other protests that the SCLC had attempted to perform. ”This is a highly signi?cant event,” King said at an early campaign meeting, he described the his idea for the campaign as ”the beginning of a new co-operation, understanding, and a determination by poor people of all colors and backgrounds to assert and win their right to a decent life and respect for their culture and dignity” (SCLC, 15 March 1968). While stationed in Washington, the protestors lived in Resurrection City, a tent city set up on the National Mall, which had real amenities like dining and daycare facilities, a dispensary, and even it’s own City Hall.The Committee of 100 was a group formed to lobby for the Poor People’s Campaign in advance of the arrival of thousands for Resurrection City. With a skeptical and fast-weakened Cesar Chavez occupied by a farm workers’ hunger strike, Reies Tijerina was the most prominent Chicano leader present. The plan was to dramatize the plight of poverty through peaceful action and rhetoric, and therefore restore the credibility of non-violent strategy in social justice organizing. The group, a diverse coalition of different people from around the country, acted as a formal lobby that delivered organized presentations of the campaign’s demands. Desegregation and the right to vote were essential, but King believed that African Americans and other minorities would never enter full citizenship until they had economic security. The SCLC resolved to expand its civil rights struggle to include demands for economic justice and to challenge the Vietnam War. “We are custodians of the philosophy of nonviolence,” King said at a press conference. Given the conditions of poverty, inequality and injustice we face today the only genuine way to commemorate the past struggle is to launch a new one for today. The campaign would help the poor by dramatizing their needs, uniting all races under the commonality of hardship and presenting a plan to start to a solution. It empowered individuals, complicated activists’ own analyses, and strengthened intra-regional networks. On Mother’s Day, 12 May 1968, thousands of women, led by Coretta Scott King, formed the ?rst wave of demonstrators. The campaign experience also led to any number of smaller local efforts by young Chicanos to make a difference in their communities while reaching out to radical whites, Native Americans, and blacks in places like Denver. They staged nonviolent protests as King had planned. The Department of the Interior forced Resurrection City to close on 24 June 1968, after the permit to use park land expired. Martin Luther King announced the Poor People’s Campaign at a staff retreat for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in November 1967. The SCLC and other leaders decided to continue the campaign in King’s honor. On 7 June Ralph Abernathy removed Bayard Rustin from the campaign after Rustin made a speech on behalf of the campaign but advocating his own list of goals rather than the Campaign’s list, and omitting the demand by the campaign to end the U.S. And yet something so non-token and so basic to life that even the black nationalists can’t disagree with it that much.” ” It’s about trying to save the soul of this nation.”(King, 17 January 1968). The Poor People’s Campaign had complex origins. Early on, King sought help from AFSC, citing his gratitude for “the devotion, cooperation and help accorded us in the past by the AFSC.” As AFSC and other organizers from 10 cities and five rural areas strategized and gathered supplies, Martin Luther King Jr. As chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King committed the organization’s resources to the Poor People’s Campaign in 1967, in response to the string of urban riots that had recently occurred in New York, New Jersey, Chicago and Los Angeles. And as a result, the interethnic efforts of the campaign helped set the table for the intra-ethnic cooperation that would sustain such Chicano movement flashpoints as the 1969 Youth Liberation Conference in Denver and the 1970 Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles. On 29 April the Poor People’s Campaign “Committee of 100” began to lobby various federal agencies including but not limited to the Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. SCLC leaders including Abernathy, Young, and Lafayette were present and led delegations. The Poor People’s Campaign held firm to the movement’s commitment to nonviolence. Dr. King told his aides that the SCLC would have to raise nonviolence to a new level to pressure Congress into passing an Economic Bill of Rights for the nation’s poor. This multi-state movement has emerged from more than a decade of work by grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations, and movements fighting to end systemic racism, poverty, the war on economy, environmental destruction, and other injustices. However things did not play out the way they wanted them to. Although the Poor People’s Campaign would end in tragedy, it made small policy gains toward fighting poverty and in visibility for the American poor. Yet journalists then and scholars since ignore the experiences of Gloria Arellanes and hundreds of others, and instead dismiss the campaign as inconsequential or even destructive, calling it everything from a “positive embarrassment” and “a fiasco” to – in the words of SCLC’s Bill Rutherford – the “Little Bighorn of the civil rights movement.” Indeed, the campaign did not achieve what King had set out to do in December 1967, when he first unveiled his new crusade but it opened up the opportunity for the future of the United States, creating multiracial groups, bringing issues concerning the lower class to the forefront, and leaving a long term impression on the natin as a whole. Bibliography”Grassroots Voices, Memory, and the Poor People’s Campaign …” . American Public Media, 5 Dec. 5026.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”International Poor People’s Campaign” . n.p., 5 Dec. 4715.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign ” Wikipedia. n.p., 5 Dec. 7759.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign (December 4, 1967 – June 19, 1968) | The …” . n.p., 5 Dec. 8963.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign demands federal intervention to end …” . n.p., 5 Dec. 5772.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign | Kairos” . n.p., 5 Dec. 0024.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign — Repairers of the Breach” . n.p., 5 Dec. 2404.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign” . American Public Media, 5 Dec. 3700.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign” . n.p., 5 Dec. 2427.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Poor People’s Campaign” . n.p., 5 Dec. 4463.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Rev. Barber: America needs a new Poor People’s Campaign …” . n.p., 5 Dec. 5233.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”Rev. William Barber talks about the Poor People’s Campaign …” . n.p., 5 Dec. 0574.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”The Poor People’s Campaign: The Good Fight | HuffPost” . n.p., 5 Dec. 1167.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.”The Unfinished Business of the Poor People’s Campaign | American …” . n.p., 5 Dec. 0740.Web. 5 Dec. 2017.