Rev. Ralph Abernathy and demonstrators at the Poor People’s Campaign
The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) was created on December 4, 1967, by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to address the issues of unemployment, housing shortages for the poor, and the impact of poverty on the lives of millions of Americans. Unlike earlier efforts directed toward helping African Americans gain civil rights and voting rights, SCLC and its leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., now addressed issues that impacted all who were poor regardless of racial background. Their immediate aim was to secure Federal legislation ensuring full employment and promoting the construction of low-income housing to raise the quality of life of the nation’s impoverished citizens.
The SCLC planned a nationwide march on Washington on April 22, 1968, to focus the nation’s attention on this issue and particularly to pressure Congress to pass legislation to address the employment and housing issues. Unlike earlier marches, SCLC leaders planned the creation of Resurrection City, a giant tent city on the Mall in Washington, D.C., where demonstrators would remain until their demands were met. When Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, movement leaders debated whether to go forward with the planned demonstration. They chose to continue the march with King’s lieutenant, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, as its new leader. The march date was postponed to May 12, 1968, though a few hundred people arrived in Washington on the original date. The first week, May 12-29, brought a wave of nearly 5,000 demonstrators. During the second week Resurrection City was completed.
The protestors, people from a wide range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds—Native Americans from reservations, Latinos from the Southwest, impoverished whites from West Virginia, as well as rural and urban blacks—came together and spread the message of the campaign to various Federal agencies. They also disrupted life in Washington to try and force the government to respond. At its peak, the number of protestors reached nearly 7,000 but still far short of the expectation of 50,000 people.
The march was also marred by weather and leadership divisions. An unusual downpour of rain made the ground turn to mud causing the tents to weaken, and eventually forcing people to leave. Tension among the demonstrators themselves caused violent outbreaks and undermined the effectiveness of PPC leadership. The assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy, a presidential aspirant and one of the PPC’s principal supporters in Congress, on June 5, 1968, sealed the fate of the campaign. Resurrection City closed two weeks later on June 19, 1968.
June 20, is the longest day of the year in most time zones in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are 11 facts you might not know about the June solstice.
1. Summer & Winter Solstice
In the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the longest day of the year in terms of daylight, the June solstice is also called the summer solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, it is the shortest day of the year and is known as the winter solstice.
2. First Solstice of the Year
Solstices happen twice a year – in June and December. The June solstice happens around June 21, when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. The December solstice takes place around December 21. On this day, the Sun is precisely over the Tropic of Capricorn.
3. When the Sun Seems to Stand Still
Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning Sun and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still. On the day of the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth. At that moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again.
The opposite happens during the December solstice. Then, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky – Tropic of Capricorn – stands still, and then reverses its direction towards the north.
4. It Occurs at the Same Time…
All over the world. Technically, the June solstice is the exact instant of time when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer.
5. It Can be on June 20, 21, or 22
Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22. June 22 solstices are rare – the last June 22 solstice in UTC time took place in 1975 and there won’t be another one until 2203.
6. It’s the First Day of Summer…
…depending on who you ask. Astronomers and scientists use the date of the June solstice to mark the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For meteorologists, on the other hand, summer began almost three weeks ago, on June 1.
In many Northern Hemisphere cultures, the day is traditionally considered to be the mid-point of the summer season. Midsummer celebrations on or around the Northern summer solstice are common in many European countries.
7. The Earth is Farthest from the Sun
One might think that since it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is closest to the Sun during the June solstice. But it’s the opposite. The Earth is actually farthest from the Sun during this time of the year. In fact, the Earth will be on its Aphelion a few weeks after the June solstice.
The Earth’s distance from the Sun has very little effect over the Seasons on Earth. Instead, it the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis, which is angled at around 23.4 degrees, that creates seasons.
The direction of Earth’s tilt does not change as the Earth orbits the Sun – the two hemispheres point towards the same direction in space at all times. What changes as the Earth orbits around the Sun is the position of the hemispheres in relation to the Sun – the Northern Hemisphere faces towards the Sun during the June solstice, thus experiencing summer. The Southern Hemisphere tilts away from the Sun and therefore enjoys winter during this time.
8. The Earliest Sunrise of the Year Doesn’t Happen on This Day
Even though the June solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, most places do not see the earliest sunrise of the year on this day. The earliest sunrise happens a few days before, and the latest sunset takes place a few days after, the June solstice.
In the Southern Hemisphere, where this day marks the winter solstice, the earliest sunset happens a few days before the solstice, and the latest sunrise occurs a few days after it.
This happens because of the imbalance between time measured using clocks and time measured by a sundial. Read more
9. Not Usually the Hottest Day of the Year
In fact, the hottest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere usually comes a few weeks or sometimes months after the solstice. This is because it takes time for the oceans and landmasses to warm up, which again allows for higher air temperatures. This phenomenon is called the delay or lag of the seasons.
10. The Arctic Circle has 24 Hours of Daylight
The June solstice is the only day of the year when all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight for 24 hours. Due to atmospheric refraction, however, the midnight sun is visible for a few days before and on the June solstice from areas as far as 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of the Arctic Circle. As one moves further north of the Arctic Circle, the number of days with the Midnight Sun increase.
On the Antarctic Circle, there are 24 hours of nighttime on the June solstice. Just as with the Northern Hemisphere, any location south of the Antarctic Circle has Polar Night several days before the June solstice.
11. It’s Celebrated Around the World
The June solstice holds a special place of celebration in many cultures. People around the world celebrate the day with feasts, picnics, dance, and music.
Union organizer and social activist A. Philip Randolph in 1941 was so frustrated with segregation in the United States’ military and pervasive discrimination in defense industries that prohibited Blacks from benefiting from the skilled, well-paying jobs they provided that he planned a march on Washington to protest that segregation.
On June 18, in a meeting at the White House with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, NAACP secretary Walter White and the National Urban League’s T. Hill Arnold, he demanded that the president intercede. “Our people are being turned away at factory gates because they are colored,” he said. “They can’t live with this thing. Now what are you going to do about it?” Randolph insisted that the demonstration, which Roosevelt desperately wanted to avoid, would go on unless the president issued a “strongly written” executive order.
His hand forced, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802, which prohibited employment discrimination in government and the defense industries and created the Fair Employment Practices Committee to monitor hiring.
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Bernard W. Robinson, the first African American Naval officer, commissioned in the US Naval Reserve. Robinson attended Harvard Medical School and became a prominent radiologist after the war. Dedicated to the care of veterans, Robinson served in the Veterans Administration Hospitals system for the remainder of his career, interrupted only by his re-enlistment in the Navy from 1953-55. Robinson passed away suddenly in his Allen Park, Michigan home on August 23rd, 1972.
Robinson’s commission marks one of many firsts for African Americans during WWII, despite unfavorable odds. African Americans were not only fighting for victory abroad, but also victory at home against racial prejudice. On the Home Front and the battlefronts, blacks encountered restrictions solely based on the color of their skin. The military was segregated and African Americans struggled to find jobs in defense factories. If they did manage to secure work, it was usually at a much lower pay than their white counterparts.
Robinson’s experiences mirror other successes, acts of courage, and achievements of African Americans throughout the war. The Tuskegee Airmen became the first black pilots of the war, with a stellar flying record. The Montford Point Marines, who served in the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, became the first African American Marines in the Corps’ 167 year history. The all-black 761st Tank Battalion spent 183 days in continuous combat, far surpassing the average of 17 days in continuous service.
Recognizing the accomplishments and sacrifices of returning black veterans, Harry Truman desegregated the military in 1948. Proving their skill and leadership on the battlefield, former servicemen like Ralph Abernathy, Whitney Young and Medger Evers began to fight for the second part of the Double Victory campaign – Victory at Home- as they returned to the United States at the war’s conclusion.
To learn more and download a fact sheet, visit WWII at a Glance
Teachers! Bring the experiences of African Americans during WWII into your classroom. Book our Double Victory Virtual Field Trip.
Posted by Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.