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Groundbreaking exhibit of Civil Rights photos and memorabilia travels to Texas museum

Groundbreaking exhibit of Civil Rights photos travels to Texas museum

Laura Jones, "Ministers’ March," 1968
Laura Jones, "Ministers’ March," 1968. Photo courtesy of

A prestigious national tour of some of the most important Civil Rights movement photos, oral histories, and memorabilia in American history is landing at Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza: "Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign," will be on view August 13, 2022, through February 26, 2023.

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, "Solidarity Now!'s" title is a reference to the Solidarity Day Rally held June 19, 1968, a major highlight for the Civil Rights movement, the museum says. The rally at the Lincoln Memorial featured speeches by celebrities, activists, and campaign organizers as a continuation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 

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

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

In the 1960s, as the United States emerged as a global model of wealth and democracy, an estimated 25 million Americans lived in poverty. From the elderly and underemployed to children and persons with disabilities, poverty affected people of every race, age and religion. 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 human rights crusade.

The exhibition explores the significance of the tactics and impact of this campaign that drew thousands of people to build a protest community 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 call the nation’s attention to the crippling effects of poverty for millions of Americans. The protest site was called Resurrection City.

As a multiethnic movement that included African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asians and poor whites from Appalachia and rural communities, the six-week protest community in Washington attracted demonstrators nationwide. The campaign leaders presented demands to Congress, including demands for jobs, living wages and access to land, capital and health care. It was the first large-scale, nationally organized demonstration after King’s death. It helped focus national attention on poverty and became a catalyst to federal programs and legislation that laid groundwork for later change.

The exhibition is coming to Dallas from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where it was on view through July 31. Other stops on its national 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 Abraham Lincoln President Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, among others, the release says.

“The Museum is proud to be the only stop in Texas for this important national tour," says Nicola Longford, CEO of The Sixth Floor Museum," in the release. "A key aspect of our mission is to explore the legacy of President Kennedy, whose antipoverty agenda was expanded on after his death to become the broad war on poverty of the Johnson administration. We are excited to bring this little-understood chapter of history to our North Texas community and very grateful to our local partners who are working with us to create a robust series of programs and community conversations about this complicated, but still very relevant, topic.”

The African American Museum will partner with The Sixth Floor Museum on programs "that will inform the public about not only the past antipoverty efforts of people and organizations like Dr. Martin Luther King and SCLC, but also the ongoing and current effort to address 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 is now.”

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