By Brianna Rhodes, Special to the AFRO
1968 was a monumental year for Black people in America. This year marks the 50th anniversary of many events such as the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the six-week occupation by King’s Poor People’s campaign on the National Mall in D.C.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the campaign that began on May 12, 1968, D.C. Public Library is recreating Resurrection City’s “Soul Tent”. Resurrection City was created by thousands of people who came together for the occupation.
The “Soul Tent” also known as the “Many Races Soul Center” was a place where people from all over the country shared their struggles through cultural exchanges and music. The “Soul Tent” not only provided tents for people to sleep, but tents were also used for healthcare, learning and art.
“The Soul Tent was the site where all were invited to come, and they treated it as a space for cultural exchange. They taught each other traditional music and compared experiences of poverty,” Nicholas Petr, a curatorial consultant for the D.C. Public Library, told Washington City Paper. “It was a really amazing setting, and a history that is often forgotten,” said Petr, who was instrumental in putting the project together. .
D.C. Public Library partnered with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and will be using original recordings at Resurrection City from the Bruce Jackson collection. The tent structure includes visual and audio displays, community storytelling and musical performances. The project also includes listening sessions of speeches and music from Resurrection City and poster-making workshops, according to dclibary.org.
“The Soul Tent” will be on display at four D.C. public libraries this summer. It is currently at Mt. Pleasant Library until May 20. It will be on display at Anacostia Library from June 4-9, Woodridge Library from June 10-17 and Benning Library from June 18-23.