Key Moments in the Fight for Civil Rights

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1968 – Poor People’s Campaign

Sign-carrying participants in the southern leg of the Poor People’s Campaign march through Atlanta, May 10, 1968. (AP Photo)

In 1967, one in seven Americans lives in poverty. The South Christian Leadership Conference embarks on an ambitious Poor People’s Campaign to bring attention to the nation’s most needy people. In response to black rioting in 180 cities during the summer of 1967, Martin Luther King says, “the riot is the language of the unheard… America has failed to hear… that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.” Economic inequities are the next target for the movement. Activist Marian Wright suggests to King that the movement stage a poor people’s march in Washington, D.C., and SCLC begins planning to bring “a nonviolent army of the poor” to the nation’s attention. They are joined by the National Welfare Rights Organization.

Much of this text is excerpted, with permission, from the website for the American Experience series Eyes on the Prize. Read more about these events and others on that site.

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