Historic exhibit of civil rights memorabilia arrives at the Dallas Museum

A prestigious national tour of some of the most important photos, oral histories and memorabilia of the Civil Rights Movement in American history is coming to Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza: “Solidarity now! 1968 Poor Man’s Campaign, will be on view from August 13, 2022 to February 26, 2023.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the title “Solidarity Now!” refers to the Solidarity Day Rally of June 19, 1968, a high point for the Civil Rights Movement, the museum says. The rally at the Lincoln Memorial featured speeches from celebrities, activists and campaign organizers as a follow-up to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The special temporary exhibit includes photographs, oral histories with campaign participants and organizers, and an array of protest signs, political buttons and field audio recordings collected during the campaign.

A press release describes the origins of the special temporary exhibition thus:

In the 1960s, as the United States became a global model of wealth and democracy, approximately 25 million Americans lived in poverty. From the elderly and underemployed to children and people with disabilities, poverty affects people of all races, ages and religions. In response, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph David Abernathy, organized the Poor People’s Campaign as a national crusade for human rights.

The exhibit explores the importance of tactics and the impact of this campaign which drew thousands of people to build a community of protest on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For nearly six weeks they inhabited ‘a city of Hope” on 15 acres between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to draw the nation’s attention to the crippling effects of poverty for millions of Americans. The site of the protest was called Resurrection City.

As a multi-ethnic movement that included African Americans, Mexicans, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asians, and poor whites from Appalachia and rural communities, the six-week community protest in Washington drew protesters across the country. Campaign leaders have presented demands to Congress, including demands for jobs, living wages, and access to land, capital, and health care. It was the first large-scale protest organized nationwide after King’s death. He helped bring national attention to poverty and became a catalyst for federal programs and legislation that laid the groundwork for later change.

The exhibit is coming to Dallas from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where it is on view through July 31. Other stops on his nationwide tour include the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati; New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe; Washington State Historical Society in Tacoma; and the President Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, among others, the statement said.

“The museum is proud to be the only stop in Texas for this important national tour,” said Nicola Longford, CEO of the Sixth Floor Museum, “in the release. “A key aspect of our mission is to explore the legacy of the President Kennedy, whose anti-poverty agenda expanded after his death to become the Johnson administration’s vast war on poverty. We are thrilled to bring this little-understood chapter of history to our North Texas community and very grateful to our local partners who work with us to create a strong series of programs and community conversations about this complicated, yet still very relevant.

The African American Museum will partner with the Sixth Floor Museum on programs “that will inform the public not only of the past anti-poverty efforts of people and organizations like Dr. Martin Luther King and SCLC, but also of the efforts in current and current challenges to solving the problem of poverty in our society,” says Dr. W. Marvin Dulaney, Deputy Director/COO of the African American Museum. “We look forward to co-sponsoring programs that will motivate people to take action against poverty in our society. The time has come.”

The exhibition will be presented in the gallery on the 7th floor of the museum on Saturday August 13. Admission is included in admission to the museum. Descriptive/explanatory text and object labels will be provided in English and Spanish, the museum says. For more information, visit the museum’s website website.

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