My family was living on Hazard Drive in Albany, Georgia when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968—my late mother’s 42nd birthday.  I was two months shy of 14 and felt doubly sad—that King’s life had been snuffed out and my mother would cry for him on her birthday.

Five weeks later, on May 12th, approximately 50,000 protestors gathered on The National Mall and heard Rev. Ralph Abernathy say these words ~

“We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of America’s wealth and opportunity, and we will stay until we get it.”

This peaceful gathering of poor people from the four corners of the country—all races and walks of life—was called The Poor People’s Campaign and demanded that Lyndon Johnson and Congress  provide jobs, healthcare and decent homes for the 13% of Americans living below the poverty line. They weren’t alone in this act of civil disobedience in 1968, there was continual student unrest across the globe—in New York City, Paris, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

A week after the march, tents and shacks went up on the Mall and became known as Resurrection City— a temporary city of 7,000 who were still traumatized by King’s assassination, yet carrying on with his hope for America. Photographer Jill Freedman quit her job and lived in Resurrection City. She and her pictures have survived to tell the story. In the the video above Chuck Farris artfully tells a version of that story.

The massive poor people’s march would be Dr. King’s final project, reflecting his shift in focus away from civil rights, as purely a race issue, toward human rights, a matter of class. His wife, Coretta Scott King, with the help of many black ministers—Abernathy and Rev. Jessie Jackson among them—carried through with the plan.

After seven weeks of unrelenting rain—the sky itself was despondent—the protestors went home. No doubt Jessie’s words echoed in their minds and hearts: “I am. Somebody…I may not have a job, but I am somebody.”

If it happened today—over 43 years later—Resurrection City could just as easily be called Occupy The Mall.