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The Protest Town That Embodied MLK's Final Dream

Weeks after Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, thousands of demonstrators came to D.C. to create Resurrection City, a shantytown on the National Mall built to demand government action on poverty.
A resident of Resurrection City sits in his shelter.
A resident of Resurrection City sits in his shelter. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, © Robert Houston

In the early spring of 1968, Kenneth Jadin and his friend John Wiebenson, who lived a couple of blocks from each other in Washington, D.C.’s Dupont Circle neighborhood, were about to meet one of their heroes: Martin Luther King Jr.

Jadin and Wiebenson were both architecture professors—Jadin at the District’s historically black Howard University, and Wiebenson at the University of Maryland, just northeast of the city. These young, unknown academics, who were both white, got an audience with King because of their involvement in a campaign that King was spearheading, the Poor People’s Campaign.