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This report begins a new series of presentations designed to bring educators
working in the turbulent present directly into the lives of the children and their
families most seriously affected by the winds of change. Dr. Walter Afield, a sensi-
tive child psychiatrist, and Mrs. Audrey Gibson, a committed early childhood
educator, have drawn a clear if disturbing picture of the children of Resurrection
City, the nature of their family life, and their behavior under duress in the confu-
sion of Resurrection City.
Although a year or more has passed since their Washington visit, the chil-
dren are probably still living unaided in those families. In most — if not in all —
cases, they are without the stabilizing influence of a day care center and the care,
concern and wisdom of a Mrs. Gibson and a Dr. Afield and their equivalent staff
people. Although there is increasing notice to their problems, the poor are still
hungry, their jobs are scarce, their skills even scarcer, families are still penalized
for having fathers with them, and day care centers are fewer in number than was
the case in June of 1968.
The astonishing story of the success of the staff in reaching the children and
beginning the reversal of their intense personality handicaps in such a short time
is the most heartening aspect of this moving tale. Mrs. Gibson's description of the
preparation of the center, and her conduct of the program under such trying cir-
cumstances, with such a varied and troubled clientele, is testimony to the fact that
much can be accomplished by the trained, experienced, and caring teacher work-
ing with volunteers to give peace and order to children, encouraging them to trust
and to love and freeing them from anxieties so that their minds can open

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to the wonders around them and make them theirs, so they can find a place in their
world to live with confidence and enjoyment.
The problems which children in adversity present will be familiar, in greater or in
less degree, to all who work with them: aggression, hyperactivity, frenzied attention
span, lonely retreat, fearsomeness, excessive thumb-sucking and masturbation, destruc-
tiveness, extreme possessiveness and disregard for property and ownership, total de-
pendence in which they hang like a lavaliere around the neck or prop against the knee.
These hurt behaviors can be alleviated. Increased physical and mental health and socio-
economic aids to the families and to the schools have been clearly needed and requested
for generations. Day Care programs professionally staffed, with flexible tuitions, time
schedules, and age ranges, and with parent programs, have been tried in various places,
found to be useful, and should be operating widely in schools and other neighborhood
centers with public support. In our highly industrialized and warring society the family
is no longer a self-sufficient unit. It requires the supportive services for protection.
You may not agree with the solutions presented as "Afterthoughts" by the au-
thors, but you will think about them and formulate questions of your own.
What remedies would you suggest?
What would be your priorities?
What is happening in your community to the children of the poor? Of the one-
parent family with a working parent? Of the two-parent family with a working mother?
How adequate is the nutrition program in your school? Are the housing and play
facilities in your neighborhood safe for children? Are they attractive?
Are the people in your community interested in working together for the good
and beauty of the community and the safety of all?
In the last analysis, each of us is in a position to speak and act for children. To-
gether we might prevent another Resurrection City.
Future issues in this series will raise other questions of importance to children, to
schools and to you. These are days of turmoil from which, with your help, may come
new and stronger patterns of American life.


SADIE D. GINSBERG
Consultant
Early Childhood Education

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Both Walter Afield and Audrey Gibson are interested in the problems of poverty. As a
child psychiatrist, the senior author is particularly interested in poverty's children. It
was his feeling that Resurrection City provided a firsthand opportunity for a unique ex-
perience with poor people in their efforts to effect a change in their lot, for he saw that
the true recipients of this change would be the children. Although he became involved
in many activities with Resurrection City, his major involvement was through the
school programs which had been set up by the National Capital Day Care Association.
Mrs. Gibson, one of the first directors of Head Start Projects in the United States, ob-
tained a month's leave from her Project at Kemper School in Arlington to be a part of
the Resurrection City day care program.

A few months previously riots had broken out in Baltimore and Washington, and
there was uneasiness in both cities — an uneasiness that transferred to the activities on
the Potomac. In spite of the tensions, Dr. Afield went every day to Resurrection City to
work as a volunteer and to observe, driving from Baltimore to Washington, using the
Lincoln Memorial Men's Room to change from business suit to overalls and galoshes,
and wading through the ankle-deep mud that came with the rains. In the evening the
morning's procedure would be reversed, and he would dictate his observations on a
tape recorder while driving back to Baltimore. At the same time Mrs. Gibson was tap-
ing an account of her work in the City as a record for her father.

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There were no intentions of writing a paper, and only when both recorders had the op-
portunity to compare notes was it realized that many of the observations were worth
reporting. What follows is a summary of these oral diaries. The social climate was such
that a careful, detailed study was not possible. Rather than detail the experiences of 157
children, the data are presented within the context of the City's four weeks' life: May
24 to June 24, 1968.
The material falls roughly into three parts. The first presents the children as seen
against the overall activity of their parents: the parents dealing with the federal govern-
ment and with each other; the children dealing with their teachers and with each other.
The parallels in behaviors are obvious, but the adults show more sophisticated varia-
tions on the children's theme. Some differences were noted in the way authority figures
dealt with both groups. The second part is comprised of vignettes of the children and
their families. The third part is a discussion of some of the broader implications of this
work, which is admittedly not classically scientific in terms of tables and statistics but is
a series of observations of a singular event by a white child psychiatrist and a black pre-
school teacher experienced in Head Start and similar poverty programs. There may be
some inaccuracies in the presentation of the political activities of the Resurrection City
adults because the authors present the participants only as they experienced them — as
residents of Resurrection City.
As we go to press we wish to express our appreciation to those outside the main
editorial stream who gave of their time and attention, particularly Dell C. Kjer and
James L. Hymes for their thoughtful evaluations and encouragements to publish. We
are also indebted to Mrs. Richard Lansburgh, who asked us to help.




WALTER E. AFIELD, M.D.
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland

AUDREY B. GIBSON, Program Director


Department of Labor Day Care Center
Washington, D. C.


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Poverty has existed throughout history and every age has presented its own solution, to
small avail. Our age is no exception, but its dynamics have made it easier to look over
— and therefore overlook — our poor. We ride the beltways around and into the great
cities, bypassing the slums and shanty towns trains once braked through; we fly great
planes above scrub-producing land with its unpainted dwellings and their ill-fed inhabi-
tants, and we are too far up to read the dirt roads' signature: Dead End.
But the poor are still there, and we have learned to look.
A growing awareness of those who have been bypassed in many ways has aroused
our national conscience to an acute desire to alleviate conditions. Communications me-
dia proclaim remedies. Politicians' careers ride on their proposals for the poor. Govern-
ment and private funding run into millions of dollars. Sadly there are as many remedies
proposed as there are people to propose them. The plight of the poor invites us to feel
guilty, and the proposed solutions are often based in the resultant emotionalism that
this guilt fosters: equality of trading, of schooling, of opportunity; a guaranteed annual
income. There is no question that much good has been done in these areas. The implied
conclusion of cause and effect is not necessarily valid; it is often the case that when
these problems are remedied the results prove disappointing. Some will say that the
remedy then has not been complete, an observation that serves, however, only to side-
step other considerations. Often there is little depth understanding of the problems of
poverty. Even agreement on definition becomes difficult.

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Poverty is not just financial hardship. More importantly, it is an emotional
deprivation and characterological set which seems to pass from generation to
generation. These poor suffer and tend to act out their conflicts, and the children
readily accept their heritage. It is our feeling that the problems of poverty can
only be attacked in a meaningful and lasting way by focusing on the children.
Here the child is indeed the father to the man, and it is here that the problems of
poverty can be clearly seen, understood, and — hopefully — remedied.
In support of this hypothesis we present an admittedly personal (and there-
fore subject to bias) but first-hand chronicle of a symbolic event.

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


In June 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Confer-
ence decided to hold a Poor People's Campaign in Washington, D.C. Its purpose would
focus national attention on the plight of the poor and to create a lobby to press for
what was denied the poor. To activate this lobby, it was in time proposed that a camp-
site be set up on a fifteen-acre plot in West Potomac Park, adjacent to the Lincoln Me-
morial. Poor people from over all the country would be brought to the site to camp
there until their plight was eased.

The site was to be called Resurrection City.

THE POVERTY MARCH BEGINS

After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the leadership of the Southern Chris-
tian Leadership Conference (SCLC) passed to his successor, the Reverend Ralph David
Abernathy, and by mid-May 1968 people began flooding into Washington. By the twen-
tieth, four days short of the target date, 3,000 were housed in their West Potomac Park
quarters, and SCLC had a sizable nucleus of demonstrators upon which to draw. Al-
though sudden rain prevented organization of initial marches around the capital city,
neither the searing morning sun nor the blustery afternoon rain kept the busloads of
new arrivals with their battered suitcases, bed rolls and blankets from pouring into the
shanty city.
As the campaigners arrived — soggy, tired, hungry, and many with bad colds —
they were told they would be split up and assigned places in Resurrection City. Most
had been part of two large groups. The 1000-man midwestern caravan
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arrived on a Saturday night and was housed for two days in the
Washington Coliseum. The 825-man northeastern caravan was
housed in suburban Maryland churches. The last major contin-
gent -400 persons who had left Mississippi two weeks previously
and had been due on Thursday — arrived late on Sunday and
settled down in fifteen churches scattered in the capital's north-
ern Virginia suburbs.
Almost immediately, while campaign leaders began to talk
of shortage of funds, black and white volunteers pushed con-
struction of the tent-shaped plywood huts that were to define the
city about halfway down the mile-long stretch from the Lincoln
Memorial to the Washington Monument. By the following Sun-
day night most of the City was constructed and the camp was
close to filling, although piles of unused lumber still dotted va-
cant areas. Many inhabitants had to slog their way through
thick mud, but the high spirits of most appeared undamaged.
Caravans continued to fill the just-emptied neighboring churches
where barrels of soup, sandwiches, and an assortment of hot
dishes had been arranged, along with cots, sleeping blankets,
and air mattresses.
About 400 American Indians and Mexican-Americans in
the midwestern caravan were scheduled to go directly to down-
town Washington, while the other half were to spend the next
two nights in suburban churches. With no overall leadership,
disorganization and some strong dissension
were readily apparent. One woman, an articulate and forceful
black, had organized the Seattle group and refused to turn over
"her" 56 American Indians to a twenty-four-year-old Sioux who
had come from Washington to collect them. "We've been inte-
grated all the way from Seattle, and now you want to segregate
us." She made her point. Her 90-member group went downtown
with the Indians and Mexican-Americans.
Other marchers told of cross-country difficulties between
the leaders of several militant Mexican and Negro groups
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and the moderate SCLC-designated leaders. At least one group broke up after it was
dispatched to a Catholic church in Rockville, Maryland. Some Negro leaders and
about thirty campaigners refused to stay "in the suburbs." With orders for "all Cau-
casians" to remain in the church, the group was escorted to the District line by
Montgomery County police, although no arrangements had been made for them in
Washington.
The arrival of the campaigners in Washington's most affluent suburbs was
marred by the incident of one busload of Mexican farm workers from the Rio
Grande Valley who ran out of gas and blocked a church driveway. A St. Louis bus,
dispatched to rescue the farm workers, got lost, never to be seen again. Still, most of
the campaigners were happy to be close to the end of their five- to ten-day journey,
though they were destined to remain suburban until Saturday or Sunday.

PLANNING FOR THE CHILDREN

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference planned to set up a "Freedom


School" for the older children, where children were to stay while their parents were
demonstrating and marching. In addition, teachers would instruct them in the his-
tory of the Poor People's Campaign and in demonstration theory and techniques.
The National Capital Area Child Day Care Association, which was asked to take
over the day care of the preschool children, set about collecting funds from volun-
teers and agencies. An experienced Head Start director (the second author of this
paper) was hired to co-ordinate and direct the program.
As the caravans traveled on their way to Washington, various demonstrations
took place. Because of the need for "on-the-road" day care, one woman on a cara-
van from New Jersey started her own program. When she arrived in the District of
Columbia she resented the established program, but after a meeting with one or two
of the Capital Area Child Day Care organizers, her co-operation as the nighttime
"on-site mother" was assured.

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Before the first week the day care program was organized and ready to go. The pro-
posed Freedom School never got started.
For the first few days the day care programs were held in the basements of the
various churches where campaigners were housed. Here, too, disorganization character-
ized everything. Attempts to register the children were futile. Children ran all about
screaming, shouting, fighting, never settling down long enough for anything to be ac-
complished. For the first time we came in contact with the silent, rejecting distancing of
the rural mothers who seemed not to care about controlling their children. We had
hoped the mothers would assist us. Most disappeared; some sat back and watched, re-
sisting any attempts we made to involve them. One seven-year-old child, James,* was
playing with one of the teacher-volunteers when his mother suddenly got up and, for no
apparent reason, began to beat him unmercifully with a strap. After that, the mother
went to a cot, lay down, began to suck her thumb and went to sleep.
Many campaign parents kept their children away from the church day care pro-
grams because there was ill feeling against white and middle-class black volunteers who
were with us. Yet we became uneasy with the unexpectedly large number of children
who did come. In addition, we did not know what lay ahead.

THE CITY TAKES FORM

Resurrection City began to take shape. Outside a wooden gate in the fence enclosing the
entire campsite was an information center where visitors stopped and impending
marches began. Inside the gate was a big circus tent, the general meeting place for the
camp, usually filled with people picking through piles of used clothing donated to the
camp by charity organizations and sympathizers. Wooden walkways of the kind often
associated with cattle towns in western movies were set down for avoiding the mud that
began to accumulate from the daily rains. There were gaps,

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

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however, and walking was precarious. The walkways led past tent-shaped plywood
houses decorated with inscriptions and slogans of the campaign: "Soul Power," "Black
Power," "Mexican Power." Some were covered with African, Mexican, or Indian de-
signs; some were bare. The houses — also floored with plywood — held several cots,
clothing, cooking equipment, musical instruments and personal belongings. Further
along on a walkway was a large dining hall — a tent with a blue and white top. Here
campers crowded in, visited, and shared a warm meal, which some said they never had
at home.

Still further on was City Hall, a larger plywood structure, the nerve center of the
camp. Here all announcements were posted outside where teenagers and children
milled around. Inside adults gathered. The Reverend Hosea Williams and other South-
ern Christian Leadership officials made this their headquarters. Loudspeakers strategi-
cally placed around the camp constantly blared forth City Hall messages about lost
children or announced impending marches. Beyond the City Hall the wooden walk-
ways stopped, and one had to wade a quarter of a mile in the deepening mud, passing
the common plywood latrine, to get to the site of the Day Care Center and its adjacent
empty Freedom School tent.

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SETTING UP THE DAY CARE CENTER

Although the city construction was finished, the Day Care Center was still unfinished.
The proposed site was picked several days before the construction date — a wooded,
shaded area, offering a play space for children. Carefully we marked it out and staked a
notice on top of our claim. When we returned the following Monday we found it had
been taken over by others and eighty-eight A-shaped huts were on the area we had
marked out. We chose a new site. The contractors, somewhat taken aback by the sur-
roundings of mud-covered makeshift plywood shanties, seemed not to understand what
we wanted, but finally, with the help of volunteers, residents and visitors, we put up the
plywood walls, hammered the nails, spread the burlap over the walls, and the building
took shape. In this rectangular building, twenty by sixty feet, were three classrooms,
ventilated by screened openings near the top. An outside porch ran the length of the
center.
Equipment came from many sources. Toys and rugs came from donors in Arlington.
Several persons donated the thirty-two chairs and the tables where children could
snack. Food of all kinds came from volunteers and from the National Capital Area
Child Day Care Association funds. Clothing came from many volunteer sources.

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Of the three classrooms, one was to be used for babies and non-walking children
with cribs and small beds; the largest room for sawing, carving, hammering,
building, and the like. Boys and girls used all three rooms.
The Day Care Center staff consisted of five permanent volunteers. In addi-
tion there was a series of persons who volunteered on a part-time basis. Many of
these were social workers, teachers, child-care workers, and just interested people;
many were SCLC people who took their two-week vacations to come on the
march. Consistent volunteers were invaluable; those who came for one day and
never returned were less so. Had organization and co-ordination been available,
more effective use of volunteers could have been made. Many queries were dis-
couraged by SCLC co-ordinators who said that only blacks were wanted.

Although our goals were not clearly defined, the objective was to have one
adult for eight children, preferably the same adult for the same children in order
to establish confidence and trust. We hoped for consistency. A crisis teacher was
appointed and it was her function to deal with individual children who had to be
separated from the group; each person had to function in this role from time to
time. Much of our experience would be of a baby-sitting nature; the rest we
hoped would be a typical pre-school nursery experience. The hours of business
would be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A night shift came on at 5 p.m. and left at 9 p.m.;
its purpose was to care for children of mothers who might be in jail. The night
shift had only one teacher and involved no volunteers. We had little communica-
tion with her, and apparently the children were absorbed into the nighttime activi-
ties of the camp which we purposely stayed away from.

Everything was finished by Monday, May 24, the start of the first week of
Resurrection City. Although leaflets about the Day Care Center had been left in
the Information Center over the weekend, few had been picked up. When we


arrived Monday morning we were surprised by the number of children who
flocked to the center. Word seemed to have been spread by the children themselves
who saw that we had toys and had created a place for them. We sent them to bring
their parents so that we could register each child properly; we wanted to make sure
we knew where each might go in case of accident to a parent or in case the parent
was arrested and had to go to jail. Several children said their parents were afraid to
come to register for fear they would be jailed.
Tuesday came and registration was in full swing. The majority of mothers
who came were from rural areas of the deep south; few could make more than an
X on the registration form. Some of the families who came had as many as ten
children in one family, some as few as two. The load was heavier than we had an-
ticipated; our plans for eight children per adult were not feasible. The care-fully
planned organization began to strain at once, for, since the Freedom School had
not started (and indeed it never did), we were left with an influx of children to the
age of twelve who wanted a place to go. As we were about to make plans for
them, SCLC informed us that a series of volunteers would be coming to take
charge of their activities.
Volunteers from the District of Columbia and from Georgetown University
arrived each morning after the daily registration to take the children on sightseeing
tours of local museums, embassies, old homes in Georgetown, and various histori-
cal sites. They also gave them a hot lunch, provided some activity in the afternoon
and a shower before they came back to the camp at four o'clock. This allowed us
to give our attention to those in our care for the day, and we found we were able
to have a music activity with the small children, a snack in the morning, and then
sit down to a real lunch. In the afternoons we would have a quiet time for the chil-
dren with books and records, thereby exposing them to reading and story telling.


It was apparent that with the daily change in the volunteers and in the activities of the
older children there was little chance for a favorable emotional impact. Many of the
older children said they enjoyed most the infrequent picnics and swimming but would
have preferred to remain with us to "help care for the little ones." Unfortunately, we
were not too receptive to their wishes!
Close by, a Stanford University computer research engineer and his wife set up a
bakery in a plywood A-frame with a sign: God's Eye Bakery Bread, Give Us This Day.
(God's Eye, represented by the weaving of two crossed sticks with bright strips of mate-
rial, is apparently an Indian symbol of giving.) From it bread was dispensed to those
who stopped to get their breakfast before coming to the center. Slices of whole wheat
bread, heated and covered with margarine, jam, honey, or peanut butter were handed
out. The children sat patiently on the porch of the Day Care Center eating their bread
and waiting for us to arrive. Few parents accompanied their children. It was common to
see a seventeen-month old child arrive without parents, remain the day, and disappear at
night. Older children of families averaging six or more children brought the younger
ones to the center. Most came from rural areas where many of the children had worked
in the fields. There were whites, blacks, a few Mexicans, but no Indians. One Indian
family did come the first day but never returned.
Morning registration began with seeing that each child had a name tag. There was
bedlam until an adult in charge sat down. Then eight or ten children surrounded him,
pulling at his arms and legs, begging to be next for the name tags.*
Disorganization characterized the first week, when there were constant changes in
the population and activities of the Day Care Center. New children appeared every day.
Some came once or twice and were never seen again. There wasn't time to put names
and faces together. We did not have the opportunity to associate a mother with a par-
ticular child; we didn't know anyone.




PLAY, THE STRANGER
The extreme deprivation of these children was immediately appar-
ent during the opening phase. Disorganized, they ran helter-skelter
from toy to toy and from room to room, never remaining at any one
activity for a long period. The only
time they stopped running was when an adult sat down. When this
happened he was instantly covered with children begging to be
"toted" or carried. At these times, the children repeated by rote,
"We are poor, we are here to help the poor people march, we are
somebody."
Discipline was a major problem. The adults spent most of their time
chasing children all around the Center. The majority of the children
did not know how to play with toys or how to play in groups. Pos-
sessions were jealously guarded but not played with. There was no
noticeable preference for types of toys. When a child saw something
he wanted, he dropped what he had and grabbed the next with the
same possessiveness as with the first. Many five- and six-year-olds
were quite mature. They were not interested in dolls but used
younger children, siblings or strangers, in their place. They diapered
the babies and reprimanded the younger ones as would an adult. We
ail agreed that although we had not seen any children quite like this,
we were not quite sure what we were seeing. Many of the things the
children did were quite normal. The degree of their actions and rela-
tionships, however, was more intense than that which any of us had
been accustomed to with children in Head Start programs. We felt
their external world — at the time most unusual — was not as im-
portant as their internal world of other children.

WEATHER AND CRISES


By May 29, the Wednesday of the first week, steady rains began
beating down on the plywood huts, and the elements vied with the
government as the chief challenge to the Poor People’s Campaign.
Chill winds whipping off the


Potomac knocked down the circus tent that served as the dining
hall. Pools of water crept over the floors of the cabins in low-lying
areas. Leaders of the Campaign, for the second time in a week, ap-
proved the evacuation of all children and any adults who felt the
rain and wind were too much. Nevertheless, the adults continued to
view their adversity in a favorable light. Many said that it would
"strengthen the resolve of their true followers and wash away the
fainthearted." The Reverend Ralph Abernathy told the press that
the actual number of persons who had left the camp was "still very
low," less than several hundred. "We will not abandon the place!
We are going to stay here! The morale of the people is high. The
spirits are good!"
The Poor People's Campaign was to stress nonviolence while
its members created a lobby for legislation. In this regard, the efforts
of Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts were enlisted. He and
Ralph Abernathy agreed that they should concentrate on bills relat-
ing to jobs, housing, food and welfare. Demonstrations would be
ancillary in an attempt to assist behind-the-scene activities of Sena-
tor Brooke and his committee. Orville Freeman, the Secretary of Ag-
riculture, was requested to release a quarter of a million dollars in
customs receipts due to be turned over to the Treasury Department
to be used for food stamps. Although the Secretary refused, he did
contribute some food to the campaign. Two demonstrations oc-
curred in spite of the rains. Several teenagers were arrested for loi-
tering on Capitol grounds, and Mexican-Americans broke up a
House of Representatives hearing on hunger in Texas.
By June 4, Tuesday, of the second week of the Campaign, the
rains had turned the camp into a bog and forced a temporary
evacuation. A rumor arose that the federal government was creating
the rain by seeding the clouds. Some marchers later voiced the same
suspicion when rain suddenly began to fall on the column of


campaigners as they passed the Washington Monument on their way to
the Justice Department. Adolescents and young blacks began to talk
about the outbreak of violence should the Campaign fail to move Con-
gress. Older residents, anxious about the terrible living conditions in the
plywood city, felt there would be national rioting. Despite the bright sun-
shine, mud four to six inches deep and the consistency of finger paint was
everywhere, while the odor of raw sewage permeated the camp.
Not only were the elements against the demonstrators, but the in-
ternal organization of the campaign worked
again them. The Reverend Ralph Abernathy often appeared to give cam-
paigners a pep talk before sending them out to demonstrate at govern-
mental agencies. Even as he led a march on the Justice Department to
protest violation of some rights of Mexican-Americans, the leader of the
Mexican-American group was at the same time berating him for lack of
leadership. The Mexicans had refused to move into Resurrection City be-
cause of the living conditions and remained at the drier Hawthorne
School, about ten blocks away. The Committee's and Senator Brooke's
efforts to continue their behind-the-scene activities to work out food and
job assistance for the poor were opposed by the rival Fallon Committee,
which was responding to Congressional anger by introducing a bill k to
prohibit all future overnight camping on federal property in the Capital.
In describing the unsanitary conditions of Resurrection City, the Fallon
Committee publicly stated that "this goes far beyond any use of
public property in the past by any group, and far beyond any use the
Congress intended for such lands."
By June 7 a mass rally scheduled for June 19, which was expected
to draw a hundred thousand demonstrators from all over and to further
dramatize to the world the plight of the poor in America, was ensnarled
in personality, jurisdictional and strategic planning disputes. Bayard
Rustin, the chief organizer, disagreed with the Southern Christian Leader-
ship Conference plan to remain at the campsite after the June 19 rally, for
he felt to do so would be anticlimactic. He notified Campaign leaders that
unless he was given complete. authority over the rally he


would pull out. He resigned after Ralph Abernathy publicly attacked him by saying
that Bayard Rustin refused to agree that the end of the Vietnam War be included in
the aims of the Campaign. The press immediately criticized Abernathy, stating that
he and the Campaign leadership had never really spelled out any of its demands
and aims.
Senator Kennedy was assassinated and the news took the headlines from the
Campaign. Tension mounted in Resurrection City. Violent attacks increased both
within and outside the city. Senator Edmund Muskie, on a visit to the campsite
with other Senators, was attacked by a camp resident and thrown into an open
muddy trench.

WORKING TOWARD ORDER


Although tension increased during the second week of the Campaign, the children
were beginning to settle down. We became concerned about the continuous rain
and sloppy mud. Everyone had been driven inside except the children, who enjoyed
the mud and preferred to play in it rather than inside the Day Care Center. There
was a constant struggle to keep things clean and despite the turmoil and disorgani-
zation with the Campaign, the Day Care Center remained the only relatively clean
and organized camp activity.
Now some mothers began to appear with their children. At first they were
reluctant to join in, but in time they came and lingered to observe the teachers with
the children at play, and some worked with the children. There was still a notice-
able absence of fathers. Most men who were marching were single. The children we
saw either had been abandoned by father, or father remained back home to work.
Limit-setting was the major factor in settling the children down during the
second week. Our effort to keep discipline in quiet voice tones was a shock to
many children who said that everyone screamed and shouted at home. Our ap-
proach was to be consistent and warm, but firm. Girls were much harder to control
than the boys. Boys could be controlled verbally, but girls were openly hostile and
independent, and needed physical restraint for their aggressive outbursts. The sex
of the adult limit-setter did not matter to them.


GROUP ENDEAVORS

After we had developed some sense of trust, we concentrated on encouraging


group endeavors. Although the children showed a charming openness guaran-
teed to evoke a warm response from any adult — no matter how much a
stranger — there was no real depth to relationships at this time. Grouping for
survival was not evident. All showed a tendency to function with a disorgan-
ized self-destructive independence similar to that which was going on in the
adult world around them. Reading of stories held attention for a short time.
Eating, which was accomplished quickly, was another group endeavor. Still, the
most pronounced grouping occurred whenever an adult sat down. Then he was
instantly covered with children begging for an arm, a lap or a finger. Even
pieces of clothing would satisfy. Toys still did not hold attention for too long.
Both boys and girls preferred toys that were large, would run or make noise.
Games were never used. Guns were the choice of all. There was much
"shooting" and "dying" but a total lack of the ability to organize play within
that context. Building blocks were not particularly favored. Visiting the small
classroom where the babies were kept was a favorite pastime of boys and girls
alike. Swinging on a tire hanging by a rope was a preferred activity of the boys,
but there was considerable fighting about who "owned" the swing. Drawings
were rather constricted and unimaginative, although there were some bold but


disorganized strokes. Pictures were mostly of houses, markedly devoid of people.

INDIVIDUAL ALONE OR AT PLAY

There were many children who preferred to remain isolated, clutching an adult and
never really joining others. Many were nonverbal and several truly psychotic. Three
were actively hallucinating. Most children showed a general overactivity and restless-
ness; many were easily distracted. No children showed a problem with maternal separa-
tion, since mothers were rarely in the scene. No speech disturbances were noted; no one
stuttered; we saw no tics. Feeding disturbances did not exist, since all ate everything
quickly. Several children were "soilers," but this most likely was a product of the camp
situation. Enuresis was quite common with all ages and was in a four-to-one ratio more
common with the girls, a rather surprising fact since one would expect it to be boys who
had the most incidents. About ten children were classically hyperkinetic. Many showed
definite minor neurologic signs. The hyperkinetics were all boys.
In summary, the second week at the Day Care Center was characterized by our dealing
with the covert hostile disobedience, quarrelsomeness, physical and verbal aggressive-
ness, destructiveness, temper tantrums and isolation of the first week with some success.
We set limits. The children began to show regression from their pseudoadulthood. They
began to trust, to group and to play.


THE FLOOD SUBSIDES

By the third week, the residents of Resurrection City had become lethargic in the hot
weather that dried up most of the mud resulting from the previous two weeks of inces-
sant rain. The surface of the compound hardened and reflected the sun. A few cam-
paigners worked on new huts; some walked slowly around the camp; others remained
inside. About a third of the residents who had been evacuated when the city became a
bog had not returned. Many campers enjoyed themselves at night with entertainments
in which they used homemade musical instruments. Still, the people were getting rest-
less. Many young militants from the big northern cities were chafing for more action.
In the meantime, although Congress had approved a bill banning overnight camp-
ing on federal land in the Capital, the Administration was willing to extend the permit
for use of the Resurrection City campsite from June 16 to June 23. Further evidence of
the disarray surfaced when a reorganization of the marshals at Resurrection City was
ordered. In response to complaints from visitors and newsmen about strong-arm treat-
ment and abusiveness by some young marshals, policing authority was placed in the
hands of 150 "more mature" men called "rangers."
Sterling Tucker was appointed to replace Bayard Rustin, and plans for the Soli-
darity Day March progressed again. By June 11, more soldiers of the Poor People's
Campaign began drifting out of the Capital and heading home, among them the entire
American Indian delegation — minus eleven staff members who remained — and a big
part of the Mexican-American delegation from the Southwest and West. At times the
camp, which in some places was still muddy, appeared to be deserted. Though SCLC
talked all along about bringing the evacuated people back to the camp to help form a
nucleus for Solidarity Day, it was evident that many had gone for good.
The American Indians and the Mexican-Americans had never moved into the
camp. On arrival three weeks previously, the 120-member American Indian delegation


had gone into the relatively comfortable St. Augustine Episcopal Church in Southwest
Washington. Some of its members had crossed a continent by bus to take part
in only one significant demonstration, that on the Supreme Court Building steps on May
29 when colorfully dressed chiefs pounded on the Court door protesting a decision up-
holding the arrest of net fishermen in Washington State. According to their spokesman,
the Indians left the campaign because of the rain and the lack of organization. The news
of the campaign had taken a back page in the press media. The headlines were con-
cerned about the increased awareness of violence, assassination, legislation for gun con-
trol, apprehension over the arrest of the slayer of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Su-
preme Court's upholding of the police frisk law.

UNREST IN THE CAMP

By June 13, much criticism was being leveled at the Reverend Ralph Abernathy who,
along with seventy leaders, remained in the modern Pitts Motel in Northwest Washing-
ton. Lack of leadership was the frequent complaint. On several occasions, muddy Resur-
rection City residents went to the hotel and demanded that the campaign leaders move
out of their snug surroundings. Only eight SCLC staff members were living in the camp.
Twenty lower echelon staffers had been living at the Francis Scott Key Hotel. The gen-
eral feeling of the nine hundred residents left in the camp was that their leadership had
been indecisive, ineffective, and had not prepared a program aimed at making Congress
enact additional legislation to help the poor.


During the third week we got to know many of the children better. We were
still plagued by the daily influx of new children and the absence of others. In addi-
tion, our relationships with the children were undermined and our work made more
difficult by a large group of pseudovolunteers who dropped by, talked with the chil-
dren, promised to return the next day and were never seen again.
In spite of these difficulties, noticeable changes began to occur. Groups were
starting to form. Children played more together without the excessive hostile out-
bursts of the first weeks and exhibited more trust in adults. Still, the swarming effect
continued whenever an adult sat down. Although the children were now acting their
age, they continued to hold adult conversations and began to talk about what they
were learning. They stopped the rote, "We are poor, we are somebody," and began
to tell us about themselves and their families. Some creative talents were beginning
to take shape. By the end of the week the group had planned a fashion show and a
puppet show. As older children took more part in the Day Care Center, they no
longer wanted the Washington embassy tours. When the Freedom School had failed
to materialize, we had let them get away. Now we realized our mistake. Had we
thought of it earlier, these older children with a parental, calming effect on the
younger ones, could have been used as our assistants. In any event, trust in adults
was established, and the children were able to "regress" to childhood behavior ap-
propriate for their age. When Senator Kennedy was assassinated, tension rose in the
camp. All the adults were visibly affected; none of the children mentioned it. When
questioned, they would not respond. There was, however, a definite distancing of
themselves from the adults. They looked and acted like the children of the first
week. This was the same response we saw when the Poor People's Campaign termi-
nated its existence.


OBSERVATIONS AND VIGNETTES

STOLEN CHILDREN

Children, white and black, were stolen in Resurrection City. At first, we thought this
"stealing" was malicious, but as we talked to more adults and some of the stolen chil-
dren, we changed our minds. The reason given by most adult "child stealers" was that
they wanted a child "to love." There was a common understanding about this among
the rural people in the camp. "Stealing" was not a one-sided issue, however; the chil-
dren often wanted to be stolen. Those who were "stolen" were not particularly con-
cerned but seemed to feel that they had many parents and could live wherever they
wished. The child quickly realized that to be taken in one must be affectionate and ap-
pealing. Their broad smiles and friendliness attested to the lesson well learned.
Of all the mothers we saw, only two were from the city. One of them, Mrs. L.,
was concerned about her children and about the Day Care Center programs, and asked
what we were doing and who we were. She knew where her children were at all times,
so that when someone stole her daughter she became hysterical, yet she had presence of
mind actively to seek the child through proper authorities and to get her back. The
same response came from Mrs. M., whose child was stolen while she slept. She even
went so far as to press charges against the person who stole her baby. These were the
only two exceptions. The other mothers seemed to care not at all.
As stated earlier, there was a noticeable absence of fathers. One father, a white
man, came with his daughter and left her with us. He did not want to take her home


and actually tried to give her away to anyone who would take her. He had no wife.
He appeared more interested in playing his guitar than in caring for his child. He sat
around all day, strumming the guitar and singing for children and other adults. At
the day's end, he would not want to take his daughter from the Day Care Center. Of-
ten he was not seen by us or the girl for several days. His daughter was clinically de-
pressed, unkempt, retarded and apathetic.
The only children who showed problems with maternal separation were the
children of mothers who were white or themselves the product of mixed marriages.
These mothers did not want to leave their children at the Day Care Center. One
woman would not leave her child but remained for a period of time on the outskirts
of the Center. The child herself appeared to be well cared for and healthy, but she
would not relate to strangers and kept close to mother. Eventually, she strayed from
her mother and related to the female teachers. She could play children's games but
was frustrated in her attempts to relate to the other children.
A white mother from Ohio who was strikingly attractive, but not very intelli-
gent, had two children, a boy — Billy, and a girl — Elizabeth, but no husband. We
wondered why she was unable to find work. At first we thought she was one of the
"Revolutionists," the name Resurrection City residents gave to a group who had
joined the campaign for thrills. She left Elizabeth, four, at the Day Care Center and
took Billy, six, on the all-day marches. It was only after she became very angry with
her children that we recognized how sick she was. We saw this when Elizabeth ar-
rived one morning with a temperature of 103 degrees. When we told her mother, her
response was toward the child, "Damn you, why have you got a temperature?" Be-
fore the child could answer, she said, "Shut up, you make me sick."
Elizabeth put her thumb in her mouth and ran to a dumbfounded, visiting
Senator Percy. Not being consoled, she ran and hid in the skirts of his secretary. She
cried and her mother went off, for the first time leaving her son with us. During the
day both children were rather withdrawn and clung to each other. The mother never


returned and the stranded children, in a state of shock, were taken in by an-
other family.
One Friday, another white child came to the Day Care Center and said
that his mother had left him alone the night before and was sick in the hospital.
We could find no trace of her. Apparently she just left. A Negro man next door
took the child in as his own.
In the third week one woman showed up cursing us for hiding the Day
Care Center and told us she had been raped and beaten. She left and presently
returned with two children, dirty, semi-nude and undernourished, to whom we
gave food and some clothing. She said that she had been in and out of mental
hospitals and was currently quite upset because she wanted to return to Ohio
but felt marshals were forcing her into staying to march and demonstrate.
Another mother with three children left them overnight. The children
wandered away. The next day she returned and did not bother to find them. She
had a nursing child whom she nursed only in the morning, then left it alone
in the plywood shack all day. We found the child and kept him with us from
then on. In the crib, the child sat motionless, expressionless, and stared at the
walls. He was not responsive to either adults or toys.
The mother of a Negro family from Mississippi had brought four girls,
leaving a sick four-year-old at home with her husband. When the child recov-
ered, the husband put his daughter on a bus and sent her to Resurrection City.
Mary, one of the four older children, was vicious and hostile, but she was at the
same time the most dependent of the children. When she had an adult in her
grasp she would not let go. But, surprisingly, Mary was able through this close
relationship to make a major behavioral change, and eventually learned to con-
trol most of her aggressive outbursts. Of the girls in this family, she changed the
most.

Obviously stealing of children was not difficult. Only when a mother


cared was it impossible to accomplish. The stealing that did go on was not a
one-sided affair. Many were children who were abandoned or not closely
watched by parents, and who, in their hunger for adults, would


latch onto anyone. Others were stolen by adults for a variety of reasons. Most of the
"childstealers" we spoke to had been stolen or abandoned themselves. Some, but not
many, actually cared for a child and tried to make up for what they themselves had
never had as children. Others seemed to have more pathological motives and in some
way wanted to recreate their own childhood conflict over abandonment, and, in the
resolution, alleviate the anxiety they still experienced. The resolution, however, often
resulted in another rejection of the "stolen" child. What was seen here is certainly no
different from that which is seen in the ghettos of Washington or Baltimore, where
children are shared in various neighborhoods, live wherever there is shelter, and have
multiple parent surrogates with the resulting confusion of identity, difficulties with
authority, and inability to form trusting relationships with anyone. "Stealing" of chil-
dren among the poor is probably more common than one thinks.

FREEDOM BABY

Mrs. F. from Tennessee had a boy, Stanley, a "Freedom baby." He was born in jail
when his mother was arrested during a sit-in with Martin Luther King. Stanley was
eight, mature, somewhat fanatical, and much involved in the Poor People's Cam-
paign. He often sang phrases from "We Shall Overcome," and frequently chanted the
litany, "I am black, I am poor, I am somebody." He was very much an organizer, of-
ten trying to get the children into "Freedom groups" as he called them. He distrusted
particularly the white members of the Day Care Center and spouted the propaganda
that the federal government was seeding the clouds causing the rains. He had the chil-
dren believing his story that there was a poisonous chemical on the mud put there by
the rich to kill the poor people.


JAMES AND FAMILY

In one family the mother — who was 23 and looked 40 — had come with five illegiti-
mate children: James 7; John, 5; Peter, 4; Martin 2 1/2; and Tommy, 17 months. Each
child had a different father. She was classically schizophrenic.
The incident of the inappropriate beating of James during the first week of the
campaign has already been given. It was this mother who often sucked her thumb and
stood in a corner. James, as the oldest, was responsible for the care of all the children, a
task he gladly took. He was very sensitive, verbal and quite intelligent, and although at
first he was somewhat cold toward us, he eventually warmed up. He did not go to the
tours of the embassies with the other children because he had to remain to care for his
siblings. Although he knew how, he did not like to play with toys but he wanted rather
to concentrate on relating to people and knowing all about them. As the weeks pro-
gressed, he became interested in building blocks and built an almost life-size airplane
with seats for himself and a co-pilot. He wanted the senior author to be his co-pilot.
The two piloted the plane as James engaged in imaginary flights around the world visit-
ing far-off places. He always asked for advice, but would then make all the final deci-
sions. At one point he called the male author "Dad," then quickly apologized. He en-
joyed reading more than any other activity, although he had some difficulty. We began
to bring in books, and he devoured them. When the Day Care Center closed for the
day, James returned, barricaded himself in, lay on a blanket and read the books. The
next day he engaged us in long discussions of the stories. He told the senior author he
wanted to be a doctor, asked questions about education and how long it would take to
become a doctor. He said it was hard for him to read and do school work because he
had to spend so much time with his siblings and mother. "They need a man in the fam-
ily."


James was good-natured, although taunted by his siblings and other children. We
never saw him get angry, but it was obvious he had to exert tremendous effort to keep
his frustrations under control. At times he would wall himself off in his airplane and
weep bitterly. His brother John was always outwardly angry, aggressive and vicious, the
only boy at the Center who could not be controlled verbally. The rather strange, angry
look in his eyes and face made all the children instinctively get out of his way. Peter was
actively psychotic; barking like a dog, he climbed on the walls and shelves, unable to re-
late to anyone. He frequently rocked and banged his head and was often found in a cor-
ner talking to himself. Martin was almost always naked, masturbating and sucking his
thumb simultaneously. He stayed on the periphery or in a corner, never joined in any ac-
tivity and would not respond to talking, caressing, or any active involvement.
Seventeen-month-old Tommy never sucked his thumb but ran around outside in
the mud without shoes. As soon as we put them on him, he took them off. He could run
faster without them. Friendly, outgoing, always smiling, eager to relate to any adult, in
the center of all activities, he moved from person to person with no apparent discrimi-
nation. One day he disappeared. James was to care for him but he ran out and stayed
lost for a day and a night while his mother made no effort to find him, expressed no
concern. When we learned about it we looked all over the campsite. The next afternoon
he appeared, walking through the mud to the Day Care Center. We took him home to
his mother. "Where you been, boy?" was the mother's only question as she turned her
attention to berating James for not keeping the house clean. Tommy made no response
and went about his business.
In the third week James made gifts for both of us: a rock-and-chain and a neck-
lace. He wanted them back when he heard they were leaving, but later changed his
mind. When his family left Resurrection City, they went to Georgia to live on
"someone's plot of land where we will start our own `poor people's city.


At the end of the third week, the older children put on a puppet and a fashion
show. A skit was produced and acted out. James gave quite an adult talk about the val-
ues of education, and Stanley, the Freedom baby, sang some songs from the Campaign.
The show was a great success. The younger children were enthusiastic and wanted to
produce their own show. For the first time we felt there was a solid group activity. Eve-
ryone was communicating.
Afterwards, children began to take an interest in toys. Hostility began to disap-
pear and enuresis stopped. Some of the psychotic children began to relate. Mary, who
stole five hundred balloons we had been given as a gift, felt guilty and spontaneously
gave them to other children, saying "Don't fight; love." Children began to say fre-
quently they loved us and did not want to go home. One black child told us that the
white people at home burned their houses and said not to come back. Another said this
was the only place she had ever been happy.
At this point, we felt we could do some really substantial emotional work with the
children.


TODAY'S LESSON

On June 18, the eve of the Solidarity Day Rally, there were some mass arrests on
the steps of the Capitol. Apprehension and an air of uneasiness settled in the camp.
Despite incessant rain and internal problems, some 50,000 were expected at the Rally.
Residents of the City voiced their sentiment for staying and forcing the federal govern-
ment to evict them from their campsites. A platform was set up at the edge of the Re-
flecting Pool and television cameras were trained on the Lincoln Memorial where the
March was to end with speeches.
Increased activity was apparent in Resurrection City as hundreds of persons
from all parts of the nation converged on the site. Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., flew
in from Atlanta to attend the rally that her late husband had planned and to say that
this was "America's last chance to solve its problems non-violently through an attack
on the triple evils of poverty, racism and war." As the day progressed, 190 buses ar-
rived at the Lincoln Memorial and deposited 9,500 people. Most were not poor. There
were many clergymen, college students and blue- and white-collar workers.
In a carnival atmosphere hot dog stands sprang up and hawkers were selling
Martin Luther King buttons and flags. A white housewife from New England summa-
rized the attitude of many. "Well, somebody had to come, and we want to have some
fun." From noon until 2:30 p.m., when the speeches began, a seemingly solid mass of
humanity moved toward the Lincoln Memorial until the half-mile stretch on both
sides of the Reflecting Pool was jammed. Tempted by the eighty-two degree weather,
many teenagers defied repeatedly broadcast health regulations against splashing in the
pool.


The Southern Christian Leadership Conference asked us to take the children on
the march. We agreed. Although trips elsewhere had been planned for many, most pre-
ferred the march, and thirty of the one hundred children ended
up on the speakers' platform. The camp was alive with music and impromptu dancing
in which the children joined. When we arrived at the Reflecting Pool, however, they be-
came quiet and bewildered. Many people took pictures of them and others gave money.
The children did not listen to any of the speeches. By the time the speeches were over,
most of the marchers were headed for trains or buses going home.
The next day on the site people were saying proudly and happily, "Good morning,
Sister!" or "Good morning, Brother!" Children talked of the great day for the poor.
Only thirty children came that day. We realized sadly that many came just for the march
and then packed up and left. There was no time to work through separation. Several
children in cars waved to us as they left, and the remaining children suddenly became
quiet. A change from the previous childhood frivolity to resigned adulthood had oc-
curred, and again the children seemed suddenly to put a distance between themselves
and us. No one cried. The group began to disintegrate.
On the last Thursday we cleaned up the center when we heard Mrs. King was
coming to see us. James, the most saddened at leaving, asked if he could have a room
for himself. He went in, closed the door, sat down in a chair and began to read, uninter-
rupted for the first time. When Mrs. King came, James said he did not want to see her.
"This is the first time I've ever been able to sit in a quiet, cool place during the day and
read without being bothered."
Mrs. King was interested in the children and talked to each child. One girl said,
"We love you, Mrs. King, and enjoyed the talk, but —" and then she asked the ques-
tion, "we miss Dr. King and we wonder where he is?"


Mrs. King answered quietly, "Darling, Martin Luther King was killed by a man with a
sickness. Have you ever been sick—with a bad headache, and your mother saw
that you—”
"I have no mother," the girl said.
"A man who was sick in the head killed him. But we will go on, no matter what;
the world must believe. Do you understand me?" The girl nodded as Mrs. King hugged
her and people cried.

Friday we told the children that it looked as if we were nearing the end. It came.
The federal government, stiffened by clashes between police and unruly demon-
strators, let the camp permit expire at 8 p.m. on June 24. When the word reached Res-
urrection City that no squatting would be permitted, the Reverend Ralph Abernathy
and his aides decided to bow to the superior force. In the early morning, as police
massed in various parts of the Capitol, residents of the City were advised by loud-
speaker that the time had come for those who wished to gather their belongings and
follow Mr. Abernathy to jail. He held one last press conference on the campsite and,
paraphrasing a favorite freedom song, laughingly advised newsmen, "C'mon down to
the D. C. jail, 'cause I'll be waiting down there." Then, with toothbrush and toothpaste
tucked in his blue denims, he led his followers through the acrid campsite, up the grassy
slope of the Washington monument, toward Capitol Hill. Even in his final arrest with
his followers, there was a comedy of errors and an hour's haggling with police about
whether he would be arrested for unlawful assembly on the Capitol grounds or arrested
for obstructing traffic.
Hundreds of police formed a line on the east side of the campsite. They were to
become part of the ring that encircled the camp and arrested about one hundred dem-
onstrators who stayed to the end. Equipped with shotguns, tear gas guns, gas masks,
and flack jackets, the police completed an eighty-minute sweep through the camp, im-
peded only by the need to make ritual arrests of the remaining inhabitants.


"This is going down in history!" one of the ill-starred City's last citizens shouted
from behind the bars of his detention bus after he had been arrested.
"America is crazy!" shouted another.
The camp was hazy with smoke from abandoned cooking fires and a humid, sul-
len mist was rising from the swampy ground. The public address system, which up un-
til the final entry of the camp rang with civil rights chants shouted by the camp's last
symbolic defenders, fell silent when the electricity supply was cut off. Thereafter, the
songs sounded faintly in the distance. Closer at hand, sergeants barked orders through
bullhorns, and police methodically ripped the doors or walls off the empty plywood
shacks.
All the arrests were peaceful. The one hundred-odd City residents who refused to
go quietly when invited to do so an hour earlier now went quietly under close police
guard. Each was photographed, searched, and identified on an arrest form, then
marched to a waiting bus. Many were women and most were blacks. Fifteen of them
were small children found huddling and crying inside the Day Care Center.

The tent where the City's last stand was taken was the cultural center, the tent origi-
nally set up for the short-lived Freedom School. It was full of empty folding chairs
where the last citizens had been chanting until the arrests came. A blackboard had
been set up in one corner.

On it was written:

TODAY'S LESSON — VIOLENCE

1. Why is there robbing and killing in the street?


2. Why are there people hungry?
3. Why are we here?

No one was there to give the answer!




AFTERTHOUGHTS
The experience at Resurrection City was unique. What was meant to be symbolic of the
poor people's plight was truly so in a situation where massive external disorder was su-
per-imposed on their own internal disorder. What we saw with the children demon-
strated the core problem: family disintegration coupled with pathological parent-child
and peer relationships. Trust was not easy to establish with children who perceived the
outside world as cold, hostile, and rejecting. Grouping for survival or for any construc-
tive endeavor was not present so long as they showed a blind, self-destructive posses-
siveness, a characteristic shown by many adults as well.
Upon the internal problems of the citizens of Resurrection City were laid the ex-
ternal problems of an organizational nature, conflicts with authority and haphazard
dealings with the establishment. Lack of a strong leader to deal with bickering and per-
sonality clashes prevented definition and attainment of goals. Most leaders of the cam-
paign were middle-class blacks; none came from the ranks of the poor. (This fact raises
several questions. Were those middle-class leaders sensitive to the needs of the poor?
Would the poor accept anything from people who are part of what they feel is the estab-
lishment? Was it impossible for leaders to rise from the ranks of the poor?)
Throughout the campaign the adults reacted to fuzzy leadership by forming splin-
ter groups. Authority, such as there was, was refused. Instead, the residents persisted in
their fierce, independent self-destructive possessiveness. Because of the leadership and
authority problems, the fate of the city was left to the vagaries of the external world's


influences. Dealings with the federal government were not carefully thought out, al-
though Senator Brooke made a valiant effort to make negotiation possible. The press
was treated badly, and in turn was hostile and unsympathetic. Negative public and Con-
gressional opinion were influenced, if not determined, by the press. The volunteers were
not well organized; most had good intentions, but their enthusiasms were misguided.
Issues were clouded by politicians, press, volunteers and leaders. Goals were confused
and caught up in the race and the Vietnam issues. Poverty and deprivation, which made
all Resurrection City men equal, got lost in the emotionalism of those who had an axe
to grind about the injustices of whites toward blacks. The campaign floundered and the
poor were defeated.
The children experienced the same internal disorder, but a part of their external
world was different: they were exposed to a relative degree of order. Attempts to estab-
lish goals and a situation structured with firm limit-setting, coupled with the opportu-
nity to trust and care for one another, marked our Day Care endeavor. Although many
of the children were to some degree deeply disturbed, our approach had decided impact
as we patiently persisted. The children were aware of a planned program in which they
were taking part. There was constant encouragement from the program leaders to form
a group and to work together.
And we began to see changes. Socialization began. Communication was enhanced
and grouping occurred, even with the most disturbed children.

There is no question we have reported a unique event of a world in turmoil. The


inhabitants of Resurrection City came from all parts of the United States, both rural
and urban. No attempt has been made to categorize: there were all races and all cul-
tures, and all were different. Even the ones who ventured such a trip were a special
group compared to those who remained at home. Each person was different, yet all pre-
sent shared the common bond of poverty, in turn shared by those in the ghettos of any
large American city. We feel we can, therefore, generalize about the contrast between
the adults and the children of Resurrection City and in this way make our experiences
more useful.


How, then, can we help the poor to help themselves?
We do not here propose to give answers; we do not have them. We do not pro-
pose a blueprint for the federal government or social agencies to follow. Our recommen-
dations fall within the context of the culture or establishment that we know. What may
sound like recommendations is in reality our way of raising questions and illuminating
areas for further consideration by professionals in many fields.
We do not wish to dwell on social changes that have affected the external world
and that will subsequently con-tribute to motivation and to the forming of internal sta-
bility for the ghetto dweller. Motivation and internal stability are mutually supportive.
For the poor there must be a recognition of a better material life outside their current
environment. The ways to reach that life must be at least grossly obvious. A relatively
stable — but not necessarily healthy — family and home are needed for the develop-
ment of realistic expectations from the environment. Before group solidarity and resul-
tant progress can exist, one must be able to relate to and work with others. To work for
a living imparts a sense of dignity to the adults that is transferred to the children. More
importantly, the children should have the image of a father who works and stays with
the family. Could not welfare arrangements reward those men and women who remain
with each other and keep their families together? No punitive action need be taken
against those who will not remain at home, but the attractions of staying together could
be so great that not to do so would be unwise.
To strengthen internal stability further, an ideal solution would be to change the
pathological mother-father-child relationships. Theoretically this is possible, but given
the present manpower shortage in the mental health field, plus the current population
trends, this is not possible in practice.


Where, then, do we turn? A sick parent-child relationship such as we have de-
scribed in Resurrection City is not the sole determinant of personality. Healthy peer
relationships and mother- or father-surrogate relationships on a catch-as catch-can
basis can often make up for the deprivation by parents. The general goal is to give
the deprived an identity, some form of model they can incorporate and on which
they can depend.
The answers lie with the children. They need this series of relationships with
adults as well as with peers. The adults should be healthy. They should be able to set
limits firmly and patiently. They should be able to encourage individual initiative and
group endeavors. Both adults and peers should serve as advisors and also as models.
Only in this way can one hope to interrupt the regression to old, self-destructive
models of dealing with the anxieties and frustrations of life.
Here again federal and private assistance is needed. VISTA and other similar
ghetto Peace Corps programs could be strengthened, expanded and publicized in or-
der to attract high caliber volunteers who will give many years of their time. Big
Brother and Big Sister organizations could be strengthened and combined with the
Peace Corps pro-grams. As part of the rethinking, could a new concept of foster par-
ents be devised? For example, there are many young single people who cannot as-
sume responsibility for full-time care of children. Could they, however, "partially
adopt" a child, or make a long-term commitment to provide advice and some form
of mothering or fathering at critical times? This would, of course, require money,
and the volunteers would need guidance from some central agency group of profes-
sionals. In any event, the key is persistence, persistence over the long haul. Otherwise
they could become like some of the "volunteers" of Resurrection City who came


with pure motives, undertook inappropriate activities, and worked only one
day. Their sense of guilt was perhaps alleviated, but they accomplished little of
consequence for the poor.
Could a plan to utilize the older siblings in the deprived families be
worked out? These older children can give an immense emotional support in
the absence of parents. They, in turn, can gain by assuming responsibility. We
see evidence of this in families where parents have died, as well as among the
deprived of Resurrection City or of any large slum.
Lastly, in our consideration of how we can help the poor help themselves,
we come to the schools, which have the children for a major portion of their
lives and thus have the greatest opportunity to effect the most change. Current
ideas about education of the deprived require scrutiny and rethinking. All pro-
gress depends upon the acquisition of some formal knowledge. What often
passes for concept formation, however, is in reality the rote learning of "we are
poor, we are somebody," which soon disappeared in the course of Resurrection
City as the children settled down and began really to learn. This type of
"concept formation" may be useless to the deprived, who need to know how
to deal with the world about them — how to shop, to plan a budget, to plan
for the future, how to overcome depression, how to trust those who are com-
mitted to help.
Learning frequently depends upon an emotional inter-change between
teacher and child and an emotional climate for learning must be established.
Teachers are often impatient with their classes and want things to happen in-
stantly. In Resurrection City it took three weeks of disorganization before the
children settled and began to learn and the mothers began to come and take
part in the activities. Teachers in kindergartens and first grades often panic at
this initial disorganization and want children to sit down. The young child ab-
sorbs much of his education on the run, particularly the deprived young child.
As we look at the Resurrection City experiences, when trust appeared,
play and learning appeared. This develop


ment of trust and resultant constructive functioning cannot be documented, however, by
testing for specific facts. The message is clear. The teacher must accept the child at the
level he is, have reasonable expectations and be firm, persistent and patient. With this
approach, the climate will come in time. Trusting relationships with adults are the key to
organizing the disorganized internal world of the child.
Experiences in Resurrection City and work with the deprived clearly indicate the
child's hunger for adults. Lower adult-child ratios are obviously necessary. The need for
more men in the schools, especially with younger children, is clear. A rich and untapped
source of more adults is the volunteer, often maligned. Some criticism may be deserved;
much is not. Given appropriate guidance and leadership, volunteers can be a vital force
in the education of the deprived. For example, a volunteer teacher's giving one hour a
week over a period of time to meet with six or seven children — or even with their par-
ents—to talk about the issues of overcoming those situations which stem from some
form of deprivation could be the most meaningful experience of junior or senior high
school.
Another aspect for the establishment of the emotional climate for learning is peer
relationships. What was striking in the Resurrection City experience was the way in
which the older twelve-year-olds did not resent being in groups with younger children. In
fact, they wanted to care for them. This observation has been repeated often enough
with other deprived children to make it worth serious consideration as a tool in educa-
tion. Nursery schools could be placed in junior and senior high schools, and the adoles-
cents used as assistants. In the same way older children in elementary schools could help
the younger ones. For example, older children could record the dictation and assist in
reading as well as direct playground activities for the youngest children. The first graders
could do the same with children in kindergarten. This would have the twofold benefit of
developing the older children and providing identification models for the younger ones.


Current utilization of primary and secondary schools is inefficient. Could not the
schools easily be turned into round-the-clock, twelve-month community learning cen-
ters serving all age levels? Day and night courses could be taught. The schools could
possibly serve as neighborhood centers for educational, health and social activities. For
the younger children, Head Start, preschool programs and day care could be expanded.
The experience of the Russians and of the Israeli Kibbutzim can teach us much about
making a more universal day care program in this country. A massive full-time day care
program could be set up in the inner cities where seriously deprived children who can-
not be cared for by their parents could spend the week away from home, visiting daily
with parents and returning home on weekends. Acculturation of the deprived could be
facilitated by participation of children from outside the ghetto. Industry could be en-
couraged not only to set up good day care programs that would provide maternity leave
and part-time work for mothers but which would also be flexible enough to allow new
mothers time to nurse and care for their children.
Granted that much must be done on a national level, individual participation is
probably critical. Without it the federal programs only scratch the surface.
The work with one child will not make him a genius; perhaps it may not even
make a current impact. But that child may father a Leonardo or a Newton who will
have the opportunity to blossom in productivity, not wither in poverty. The opportunity
for any of us to make a major impact on one child may well be the most important
thing one can do to stop the lock-step march of poverty into another generation.
Without the decision to involve ourselves we could let the children of Resurrec-
tion City fade out of our minds now that the huts are gone, the loudspeaker is silent,
and the mud is covered with respectable lawn once more.

Will we forget the children now that they have gone?











 
         


 
          


 
    


 
     


 
       


          

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 
 
 

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
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
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
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