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New exhibition at Freedom Center showcases 1968 campaign against poverty

CINCINNATI – A new exhibition at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is illuminating the often-overlooked history of the multicultural movement to confront poverty that redefined social justice and activism in America. Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, opens March 30 at the Freedom Center.

In the 1960s, the United States emerged as a global model of wealth and democracy, an estimated 25 million Americans lived in poverty – nearly 13% of the population. From the elderly and underemployed to children and persons with disabilities, poverty affected people of every race, age and religion. In response, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rev. Ralph Abernathy, organized the Poor People’s Campaign as a national human rights crusade. Solidarity Now! features photographs, oral histories with campaign participants and organizer and an array of protest signs, political buttons and audio field recordings collected during the campaign.

The exhibition title is a reference to the Solidarity Day Rally held June 19, 1968, as a major highlight and capstone for the movement. The rally at the Lincoln Memorial featured speeches by celebrities, activists and campaign organizers as a continuation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Solidarity Now! 1968 Poor People’s Campaign will be open March 30 through June 19, 2023 at the Freedom Center – Smithsonian Affiliations institution. The exhibition is included with admission. For more information, visit

Image: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center