Andrew Young and the Poor People’s Campaign

By Cheryl Oestreicher, Project Archivist, Andrew J. Young Papers, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History

“Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.

For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Archives at Auburn Avenue Research Library, aarl [dot] archives [at] fultoncountyga [dot] gov

In the midst of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference addressed poverty and its effect upon civil rights. The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) in 1968 was an effort to raise awareness of the variety of issues associated with poverty. Participants spoke with government departments and requested a living wage, secure income, access to land and capital, and a role in government programs for citizens.

The planning started in the winter of 1968 and the campaign was expected to begin in April. After the assassination of Dr. King, the SCLC chose to continue with the campaign, knowing that Dr. King would want it carried through. This was the first campaign the SCLC did that incorporated such a wide variety of people, including Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Native Americans, whites, and African-Americans. Andrew Young said, “We did not appreciate it at the time, but with Martin’s death, the Poor People’s Campaign became the venue through which his coalition of conscience came together.”

Above:  Draft of speech by Andrew Young, 1968.


Above:  Flier for the campaign, 1968.]


The Andrew J. Young Papers are currently closed to researchers and are expected to be open in late 2010. The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History is the first library of its kind in the southeast offering specialized reference and archival collections for the study and research of African cultures. For more information visit our website.