Explore the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign at Sul Ross State Univ.

Poor People's Campaign button-courtesy of Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Linda and Artis Caso

The Sul Ross State University sites in Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Uvalde will host “City of Hope: Resurrection City and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign,” a poster exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Smithsonian poster exhibition 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 in 1968. Demonstrators demanded social reforms while living side-by-side on the National Mall in a tent city known as Resurrection City. It stretched across 16 acres between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Resurrection City housed 3,000 protesters with structures for essential services such as sanitation, communications, medical care, and childcare. It included a dining tent, cultural center, and a city hall along the encampment’s bustling “Main Street.”

“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 historical significance and president-day relevance of the Poor People’s Campaign.

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a “war on poverty” in 1964, yet 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.

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. The campaign’s influence was seen in school lunch programs, rent subsidies, home ownership assistance for low-income families, education and welfare services through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and more.

Sul Ross State Univ. is pleased to share the City of Hope exhibition and invites you, your family, friends, and civic and community groups to explore this display of social justice and the American story. It is free and open to the public. The display will be in Del Rio on Mon., July 15 through Fri., Aug. 9; in Eagle Pass Mon., Aug. 12 through Fri., Sep. 6; and in Uvalde Mon. Sep. 9 through Fri., Oct. 4. For more information, contact Laura Nelson in Uvalde at 830.279.3040 or via email at lnelson@sulross.edu.

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 https://www.sites.si.edu/.