13 may 1968 & resurrection city officially opens
#OTD 13 May 1968 Resurrection City, a planned encampment on the National Mall for up to 3,000 individuals and families, officially opened with a dedication ceremony slightly before noon near the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool. Ralph Abernathy, as SCLC president, led the ceremony. With a hammer and nail in hand, he drove a symbolic stake into the ground. He told the crowd, "We are not going to destroy any person or property. But we are going to plague the pharoahs of this land until we can get jobs with a meaningful income and a guaranteed income."
As he struck the stake, the crowd responded, "Freedom, Freedom." The crowd also sang "We Shall Overcome," among other songs, with a twist. In addition to "black and white together," they added, "red and black together," "brown & black together," and "yellow and white together," to reflect the intentional cross-racial coalitions of the Poor People's Campaign.
After the ceremony, the crowd ate lunch around the reflecting pool. Billy Simpson, of Billy Simpson's Restaurant (3815 Georgia Ave NW), provided 850 lunches (a sandwich, orange and cupcake pack).
Your comments are welcome below. Did you, a family member or a neighbor attend the dedication ceremony? Did you know Billy Simpson? Did you help prepare or transport the bag lunches? Do you recognize anyone in the photographs? Do you have photographs or other ephemera from the dedication ceremony? You may comment privately here.
Photo source: Courtesy DC Public Library Special Collections. UPI Telephoto. Photographers, rkm/stf.
Charles Conconi and Woody West, "Abernathy Dedicates Tent City: Asserts Poor Will Stay Till Congress Acts, " Evening Star 13 May 1968.