Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign exhibit comes to National Civil Rights Museum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new exhibit opens Saturday, May 14, at the National Civil Rights Museum. It is called Solidarity Now, and it chronicles the Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City, a tent city in Washington D.C. on The National Mall occupied by thousands of people in 1968.

The National Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel are the first of ten stops for the traveling exhibit, and with good reason, according to the museum’s Director of Interpretation, Collections and Education, Dr. Noelle Trent.

“On May 2, 1968, Corretta Scott King came back to Memphis and in the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel to announce that the campaign would continue. Thousands of people came from across the country and established a tent city on the National Mall, so they could urge senators and Congress to enact change to address poverty in the U.S.,” Trent said.

The exhibit has 60 actual artifacts from the Poor People’s Campaign and Resurrection City.

“They were not meant to be preserved long term. What is really compelling is the film footage that we have,” Trent said

The story of the Poor People’s Campaign is told through signage and photographs of people heading to Washington, as well as interactive exhibits and signs calling for equality.

Saul Sopoci Drake with the Smithsonian put the traveling exhibit together.

“The power of the story is you have all of these people coming together from around the country to one location, and that was before social media. To get all those people together was an interesting part of history,” Drake said.

A story that is still relevant today.

”So, today, you have 40 percent of Americans who are one $400 emergency away from poverty. So, this is an issue that has a lot of relevance,” Trent said.

The exhibit is free with your regular admission to the National Civil Rights Museum. It runs through July 31.