Interview with William Rutherford

At what point did you realize that Resurrection City was not going to work?


I think the impression that Resurrection City was a failing cause occurred probably two or three weeks into the campaign for the demonstration. That is we had anticipated a reaction on the part of the American public under the impact of the publicity that we had hoped to generate, ah, that would have helped achieve the goal in focusing attention on the plight of the poor in America. And within two or three weeks after the demonstrations at the Department of Justice at the FBI Building at the Department of Agriculture and so on. It became more and more clear that, ah, this was not happening, it was not about to happen. In fact I would say that, ah, the culmination of the Poor People's Campaign which left thwarted and frustrated the hundreds and thousands of people who had come from all parts of the country who had no homes to go to, who were deeply buried in poverty and who remained buried in poverty despite the Poor People's Campaign, and were left, I mean completely stranded. They were the survivors of what I said at one point, could be described as the Little Big Horn of the Civil Rights Movement. I would say that the Civil Right Movement probably began to dec--began to decline to the point it's reached today, ah, as a result of the failure and at the end of the Poor People's Campaign. I think the Civil Rights Movement has never regained the strength and dynamism that it had, ah, prior to the Poor People's Campaign.