As deep winter settled over Washington, D. C., last month, gardeners—hoping for a riot of color when flowers bloom next spring—were planting seeds.
Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was sowing seeds for a massive camp-in at the nation’s capital this April. But it’s anybody’s guess just what will sprout.
Billing the drive as “a poor people’s campaign for jobs and income,” the Nobel Peace Prize-winning civil-rights leader says he will recruit 3,000 persons from ten major Northern cities and five Southern rural areas and bring them to the capital. “Militant non-violent action” will be exerted, say King spokesmen, to focus national attention on the problems of the poor and powerless and, it is hoped, to wring major financial appropriations from Congress in order to “stem the tide of despair in the ghettos.”
Washingtonians are worried. The religious community is divided. Negro clergymen in the District don’t know which way to jump; the solid support generated for King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the August 28, 1963, civil-rights demonstration in Washington is lacking now.
With the “tent-ins and sit-downs” less than four months away, most ministers were taking a wait-and-see attitude, and neither the National Council of Churches’ Department of Social Justice nor the Council of Churches of Greater Washington had adopted a position for or against King.
Maybe that’s the way King wants it, because his critics say his following is dwindling and his influence—especially in the black community—ebbing.
Although King and his aides would not disclose particulars of the camp-in strategy, they declare the intended disruption may include blocking the entrances to government buildings, shutting ...1
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