12 may 1968 & 6,000 join national welfare rights org mother's day march & rally
#OTD Sunday 12 May 1968 The National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO) organized a Mother's Day March & Rally that served as one of the official launches of the Poor People's Campaign. The NWRO, headed by Ms. Johnnie Tillmon and founded by Dr. George A. Wiley, comprised 100+ groups of individuals who received welfare in DC and 26 states.
The march began at the Kennedy playground (7th & O Sts NW) and ended at Cardozo High School (13th & Clifton Sts NW). The 3,000 marchers who began at the playground started out in the rain. They walked north on 7th St, turned west on U St, turned north on 13th St, west on V St, north on 14th St and then east on to Clifton St.
Some of the paper flags and large banners stated:
"We care for our children"
"Income, Dignity, Justice, Democracy"
"More money now"
"Bread and Justice Now"
"Free Women from Poverty Now" (carried by NOW organizer Betty Friedan)
The crowds swelled to 6,000 at the rally. They heard speeches from a range of individuals, including the (unidentified) person in the main photo. She was most likely advocating for land rights, fishing rights and independent schools for Native Americans. Around her on the dais are Etta Horn, NWRO 1st vice chair & DC affiliate chair, Julie Belafonte, Christine King Faris, Ethel Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, Naomi King, Johnnie Tillmon, among others.
Ms. King demanded jobs, a guaranteed income and repeal of the 1967 amendment to the Social Security Act freezing federal welfare funds. Ms. Horn concurred and added that the effect of the amendment was to "send us back to slavery."
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, a family member or a neighbor participate in the march? Help organize the march & rally? Do you recognize anyone in the photographs? Do you have photographs or ephemera from the march& rally? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy DCPL Special Collections. Poor People's Campaign Collection. Ken Heinen, photographer; Owen Duvall, photographer of crowd image.
Elsie Carper, "Mother's Day Parade Opens Drive by Poor," Washington Post 13 May 1968.
Click here to learn more about specific demands of different Native American groups.