The Poor People’s Campaign, held in Washington, D.C., during the spring of 1968, has long been overshadowed by the assassination of its architect, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the political turmoil of that year.
But while the campaign did not achieve its lofty goals — including a rededication to the War on Poverty and an end to rampant police brutality — it did prove to be an illustrative moment of a “long” civil rights movement that highlighted the essential yet oft-forgotten objective of economic justice and everything that entailed. This multiracial campaign also shed lights on the interdependent relationship between racial identity and political coalition among African Americans and Mexican Americans. While the fight against poverty held great potential for Black-Latino cooperation, such efforts also exposed the complex dynamics between the nation’s two largest minority groups.
Presenter Gordon K. Mantler is Executive Director of the University Writing Program and Associate Professor of Writing and of History at the George Washington University. Mantler has taught writing and history since 2006 at GW, Duke University, and Guilford College in North Carolina. Since 1999, Mantler has specialized in the history and rhetoric of 20th century social justice movements and the African American and Latino experience in the United States, as well as public, oral, and film history. He has received numerous awards and grants, including financial support from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library.