People’s University at the DC Public Library presents
During the summer of 2018, I had an internship at the DC Public Library assisting curator Nicholas Petr with curatorial planning, artist relations, design, and marketing of the Soul Tent project. The project commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and drew connections to the revived New Poor People’s Campaign.
From the DC Public Library
On May 12, 1968 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign arrived in Washington, D.C. Nearly 6,000 people descended on the National Mall and the 40-day encampment came to be known as Resurrection City. Caravans brought thousands of people: black civil rights activists and poor residents of the South, Puerto Ricans of New York, Chicano workers of the Southwest, whites of Appalachia, and American Indians of the West. They had come to the nation’s capital to demand a dramatic redistribution of wealth put forth in an Economic Bill of Rights.
Resurrection City’s Many Races Soul Center or Soul Tent became a site of cultural exchange where residents could celebrate shared experiences of struggle through music and and cultural expression. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1968 in Washington, D.C., the DC Public Library will revisit the legacy of Resurrection City’s Soul Tent and consider this historic struggle for justice in the context of today.
The Soul Tent will visit four DC Public Library locations beginning in May and include visual and audio displays, community storytelling, musical performances, listening sessions of speeches and music from Resurrection City ’68, and poster- making workshops. Recordings and photographs from DCPL’s Special Collections and The Library of Congress American Folklife Center will be on view.