Resurrection City

1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW
D.C., DC 20004, US

Category: Labor Struggles/History

Used in the following map:

DC Labor Map

In this space, which was at the time a grassy field, starting on May 21st, 1968, thousands of people constructed a shantytown called “Resurrection City” as part of the Poor People’s Campaign of Martin Luther King’s SCLC shortly after his assassination. The campaign was organized to push for an Economic Bill of Rights. Thousands of people lived in Resurrection City and in some ways it resembled other cities. Gordon Mantler writes: “Resurrection City also became a community with all of the tensions that any society contains: hard work and idleness, order and turmoil, punishment and redemption. Businesses flourished inside the tent city’s walls, as did street crime. Older men informally talked politics while playing checkers or having their hair cut; others argued in more formal courses and workshops.” There were unusual problems but there was also unusual dignity. Residents called it “the city where you don’t pay tax-es, where there’s no police brutality and you don’t go to jail.” Resurrection City had its own zip code, a university, a “Soul Tent”, a psychiatrist, and a city hall. It lasted for 6 weeks.
- Fhar Miess