On the campus of Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College, historical images and posters from the 1960s are mounted on easels and lined up through the halls of the Small Business Development Center. While some passersby may overlook the display, the historical and cultural significance is far from subtle. These collection of images in part of a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
The exhibition “City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign” has a temporary home inside the campus’ Small Business Development Center. It commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision to end poverty in the U.S. and highlights the last important movement Dr. King was involved before his assassination on April 4, 1968.
Resurrection City was a tent city occupied by Americans of all colors and all walks of life to demand social reforms but is a largely forgotten event in the civil rights era. A total of eight organized caravans traveled a combined total of 13,000 miles traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in Resurrection City.
Elizabeth Riccardi, project director with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, says community leaders presented a Poor People Statement of Demands to Government officials weeks after King’s assassination. They demanded collective bargaining rights for farmworkers, land rights for Native Americans and Mexican Americans, and emergency food programs for the nation’s poorest counties, among other things.
Verónica Méndez and Laura Nelson with Sul Ross State University Rio Grande College lobbied to bring the exhibit to the South Central Texas border region. Méndez, assistant provost and dean, and Nelson, director of Enrollment Marketing and Public Relations, said the exhibit exemplifies the aspirations of what it means to be human, and our basic colorblind need for shelter, education, healthcare and providing for our children.
“City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign” is currently on display at the Eagle Pass campus’ Small Business Development Center through Sept. 6. The exhibit’s final stop is the Sul Ross Uvalde campus from Sept. 9 – Oct. 4th.