Poor People's March

Published: 1968
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Ralph Abernathy, Leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, delivers his speech at the 61st annual meeting of the American Baptist Convention in Boston, Massachusetts on January 6th, 1968. Rev. Abernathy's Group is sponsoring the poor peoples march in Washington. (UPI Photo/Files)

Announcer: Dr. King’s death came after he had made plans for a massive poor people’s march on the capital. His death did not diminish those plans, and in May, 50,000 persons made Resurrection City their home. It was a community of makeshift wooden homes and tents that presented a stark contrast to the majestic marble buildings of Washington. There the poor, the black, the Indian, the Mexican, slept, ate and demonstrated.

A report by the President’s Commission to study riots was issued in March. Chairman Otto Kerner told of one of the conclusions of the report.

Otto Kerner: “Our nation is moving toward two societies; one black, one white, separate and unequal. Reaction to last summer’s disorders has quickened the movement and deepen the division. Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American lives, they now threaten the future of every American. This deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement of part can be reversed, choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to pledge for a national resolution.”

Announcer: And while racial strife was a part of 1968, there was also news of progress toward achieving justice for all races. The Civil Rights Bill passed in 1968 is designed to topple racial barriers in 80% of the nation’s housing.

Unknown Speaker: “Today the nation’s Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This is a victory for every American, because the only true path to progress for free people is the one that we will take when this legislation has made the law of our land. Through the process of law, we shall strike for all time, the shackles of an old injustice.”

Announcer: The poor weren’t the only ones who demonstrated in 1968, by far, more frequent and more vehement demonstrators were students in Paris, in New York City, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

Announcer: The story of student unrest, student dissent, student takeover, coming up next on United Press International’s 1968 In Review.

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