Lesson Plan: 1968: The Poor People's Campaign

Resurrection City 1968: Overview

Lonnie G. Bunch, Founding Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, describes the circumstances in the country during this time and its relationship to the Poor People's Campaign.

Description

1968 was a tumultuous period in the United States. The Vietnam War, political assassinations and civil rights issues were among some of the challenges the country faced as solutions were sought. At this time, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Poor People’s Campaign to shift the focus of the civil rights movement to economic issues; however, Reverend King was assassinated weeks before the campaign got underway in Washington, D.C. In this lesson, students will learn about the circumstances that gave rise to this campaign and how it is relevant today.

Procedures

  • STEP 1:

    As a class, view the following video and engage in class discussion to provide context for the year 1968 and the emergence of the Poor People's Campaign.

    Students can take notes on the handout below:

    Handout: 1968: The Poor People's Campaign (Google Doc)

  • Video Clip 1: Resurrection City 1968: Overview (3:00)

    Lonnie G. Bunch, Founding Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, describes the circumstances in the country during this time and its relationship to the Poor People's Campaign.

  • Step 2:

    Have students view the videos below as a class, individually or as a jigsaw activity.

    Students can take notes on the handout to record key points as they relate to this historic time. Then, use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion as students share what they learned.

  • Video Clip 2: Origin of the Poor People's Campaign (1:38)

    1. Explain the origin of Resurrection City and the Poor People's Campaign as Peter Edelman describes.
  • Video Clip 3: Resurrection City (9:18)

    1. Who were the young patriots? Explain their relationship with the Black Panthers.

    2. What were some of the demands of the Poor People's Campaign in 1968?

    3. Describe Marc Steiner's experiences at the encampment in Resurrection City.
  • Video Clip 4: The Poor People's Campaign (5:30)

    1. Explain the Economic Bill of Rights that was proposed by the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.

    2. What were the goals of this campaign? Explain its relevance today by asking students to consider the issues the country experienced then and now.
  • STEP 3:

    Culminating Activity: Ask students to think about what a current Resurrection City would look like. Then ask them to write a letter to a family member or friend or create a social media post describing their experience at the encampment. They should include specific details about the issue(s) they are protesting and what changes they would like to see in the country.

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • Black Panther Party
  • Bully Pulpit
  • Encampment
  • Galvanize
  • Ghetto
  • Ku Klux Klan
  • Living Wage
  • Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Militant
  • National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People
  • National Urban League
  • Racism
  • Rainbow Coalition
  • Robert Kennedy
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Tactic
  • Vietnam War

Topics

Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesU.S. History

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity