In this WSB newsfilm clip from Atlanta, Georgia on April 18, 1968, Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy speaks to reporters at a press conference about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's plans for the Poor People's Campaign.
The clip begins by showing a podium with symbols on it. Next reverend Ralph D. Abernathy, head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), is seen standing with other African American men in front of a microphone; at one point Reverend A. D. King, Dr. Martin Luther King's brother, is seen among the men. Abernathy, wearing a turtleneck and a jumpsuit, announces SCLC will begin the Poor People's Campaign on Monday, April 29 in Washington, D.C. as had been planned before the April 4 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Abernathy reports that he has agreed upon plans for the campaign with other SCLC leaders during recent meetings held in Clayton County, Georgia. Abernathy indicates the purpose of the "militant, nonviolent" campaign is to force Congress to recognize the "national emergency" and "to deal with the issues of poverty and racism in the United States." He emphasizes that the crisis is that "millions of poor people are desperate for decent jobs and secure incomes." The campaign will begin April 29 when Abernathy and about one hundred others will meet with national leaders and "present our demands for redress of our grievances." After these meetings, Abernathy reports that he will return to Memphis on May 2 where he will begin the march to D.C. by placing a memorial at the Loraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated; the clip's audio fades during his comments.
Abernathy announces that in addition to the march from Memphis, other marches will begin in Mississippi, Chicago, and Boston. The clip breaks and Abernathy asserts that Dr. King's sacrifice for poor people will not be in vain. He declares the intention to challenge racism and oppression of the poor. He lists several examples of challenges to underprivileged people in the United States and elsewhere; his comment are not completely recorded.
Following a break in the clip, Abernathy stresses that the country must begin healing and putting its "almost limitless resources at the service of people instead of things." Abernathy invites those who "really believe in the dream of the founding fathers ... and the dream of Martin Luther King" to participate in the Poor People's Campaign. After these statements Abernathy answers reporters' questions, indicating that the campaign will present specific, predetermined demands. After a clip break, Abernathy asserts that the Poor People's Campaign isn't a "health campaign" or publicity stunt. The clip breaks again and Abernathy reports that he anticipates thousands of people will come to Washington, D.C. before the campaign is over.
Following the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) voted that reverend Ralph D. Abernathy take over the organization's leadership as had been outlined by Dr. King before his death. Abernathy and SCLC leaders led the Poor People's Campaign which included a live-in demonstration in Washington, D.C. from May 2 through June 19, 1968.
Title supplied by cataloger.
The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for digital conversion and description of the WSB-TV Newsfilm Collection.
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Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of reverend Ralph D. Abernathy speaking to reporters about the Poor People's Campaign, Atlanta, Georgia, 1968 April 18, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 1455, 45:34/55:44, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga, as presented in the Digital Library of Georgia.