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[From the Washington Evening Star, Aug. 7, 1968]
U.S. Sends BILL FOR TENT CITY-Asks SCLC FOR $71,795 FOR CLEANUP
(By Roberta Hornig) The National Park Service sent to sponsors of the Poor People's Campaign today a bill for $71,795—the amount it says Resurrection City cost the government.
The Park Service asked for immediate" payment.
The biggest item in the detailed claim submitted to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is $64,839 for dismantling and removing the wooden huts that had stood in West Potomac Park.
The bill, however, does not include the $65,000 the Park Service estimates it will cost to resod and restore the grass at the Resurrection City campsite.
"WEAR AND TEAR"
That cost, a Parks spokesman said, lies within the “reasonable wear and tear of turf" Parks accepted when it granted a camping permit to the campaign.
The claim, the spokesman said, deals solely with SCLC's responsibility under terms of the permit “to remove facilities installed and to restore the site to its prior condition. ..."
The claim was submitted by registered letter today to Washington attorney Frank Reeves, who had helped negotiate the camping permit for Resurrection City for the SCLC president, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, with the federal government; Leroy Clark, a New York attorney with the NAACP, who also helped with the campaign, and the SCLC Washington and Atlanta headquarters offices.
Parks sources said the hope is that SCLC will take the claims amicably and pay up. They indicated, however, that if SCLC does not honor the government bill, a lawsuit for the money could follow.
SCLC has said it will submit claims of its own to the government, but far it has not indicated what they are.
Other Park Service bills to the campaign range from $3,350 NPS estimates it will cost to repair and replace trees, to $100 for replacing two park benches.
PAINT ON MEMORIAL
The $71,795 billing also includes $1,726 for repairing and replacing shrubbery ; $660 for replacing 300 feet of snow fence; $200 for removing paint that had been thrown on the D.C. War Memorial located on the site, and another $900 for repair to the slate sidewalk around the memorial that had been ripped up during the course of the campaign.
The Resurrection City dismantling. Parks said, cost NPS $14,122, the General Services Administration $27,217 and the District government $23,520. The money is owed mainly for labor costs, with lesser amounts for equipment.
(From the Sunday Star, June 30, 1968)
(By James Welsh) Early in May, the week before the first of the Poor People's campaigners came to town, staff members of the Smithsonian Institution were in New York and Newport, R.I., huddling with officials of two foundations.
Their idea, conceived some time before at the Smithsonian, was to mount a cultural program at Resurrection City. It would have been designed not only to entertain the tent-city residents, but to stimulate what cultural talents they brought with them, especially in the field of music.
Approval of the idea was no problem. The Ford Foundation promptly made a grant of $30,000, to be used for installing a wide variety of facilities, from a "culture tent" to elaborate sound and lighting systems, and for tours to the Smithsonian by the children of Resurrection City.
In addition, the Newport Folk Foundation made a grant of $5,000 to subsidize the appearance at the encampment of a number of folk-music entertainers. This sum was matched by private contributions from Gregory Peck, Theodore Bikel, Mrs. Pete Seeger, Folkways Records and others.
All together, the Smithsonian's ambitious venture represents just one small part of that unique lobbying spectacle and experiment in living called the Poor People's Campaign. But it illustrates a number of significant elements that were present throughout: the good will that existed despite a mounting hostility toward the campaign; the large numbers and diversity of people drawn into what was going on; the frustration encountered by so many who tried to help; and, not least, the enormous mount of money involved.
Now Resurrection City has come and gone. Although Smithsonian officials are putting a good face on it, the results of the cultural program can generously be described as mixed.
The tent went up, and so did the stage facilities. That proved fairly easy.
As to what to do with them, confusion plagued the program, Seldom was there agreement among the Southern Christian Leadership Conference staffers or their followers as to what people wanted and what would be best for the whole group.
Only some of the performers on the Newport Folk Foundation list appeared. One who did not was Harry Belafonte. Others were canceled after conditions at the tent city continued to deteriorate.
Of those who did appear, the Georgia Sea Island Singers stayed for a month, not only performing but teaching some of the residents.
A high point was the performance of a Sioux Indian, Henry Crowdog, who talked with dignity of keeping cultural roots alive, sang for a largely Negro audience that joined in polyrhythmical handclapping, then beat a drum while one of the Sea Island group sang. Things clicked that night.
But there were low points. An Algonquin Indian delivered an anti-white harangue that was challenged by a white man and almost provoked a riot. Singer Pete Seeger was largely ignored by the camp's Negroes. Other performances were badly attended, at times because the camp's young people decided to hold rock 'n' roll sessions a short distance away.
FEW TOURS CONDUCTED
The Smithsonian tour program largely went awry. Only one trip from Resurrection City, plus a few more for the Indians at Hawthorne School, erer materialized, and it was on the Friday before the camp was closed. At other times, despite elaborate plans that included lunches prepared for the children, things fell apart because the encampment leaders failed to get the children together.
A bus costing about $50 a day stood idle until Smithsonian officials decided to bring children from Washington schools to the specially planned programs. Almost 100 volunteer guides had been mobilized.
The Smithsonian also had hoped to organize some of the residents to create a large exhibit demonstrating the roots and culture of poverty. That project, in the words of a Smithsonian official, remains “in the gestation period.”
Currently about a third of the Ford grant and a couple of thousand dollars in the other fund remain unspent.
Now that the campaign is dwindling, the financial elements are coming into sharper focus. But only to a degree.
FIGURING THE COST
Consider the costs of the campaign. A precise tabulation is impossible. Trying to obtain one would drive the average accountant wild, even if he had full access to records, for some of these records are incomplete, while lines of financial responsibility were criss-crossed throughout.
In direct financial outlay, in what the SCLC spent to finance the campaign, in what the government spent and in what was spent by all the people, mostly Washingtonians, and all the agencies like the foundations that rallied around to help the people of Resurrection City, the cost of the campaign probably ran between $1.5 million to $2 million.
The indirect costs would include countless hours of time contributed by doctors, lawyers, churchmen, food executives and others.
If they can be said also to include the losses suffered by downtown business establishments, these indirect costs would soar.
“You can safely say that the loss in business, especially to the tourist-oriented businesses like the hotels and restaurants, and to the downtown retail establishments, ran into the tens of millions of dollars," said William Calomiris, president of the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade.
By far the biggest money mystery concerns the finances of the SCLC—what came in and what went out. Like the iceberg, much remains invisible. Questions to SOLO staffers are regularly bucked along upstairs, where they are usually greeted with vagueness and comments like, "That distracts from what we are trying to do."
WHERE MONEY WENT Contributions following the slaying of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and throughout the campaign fattened the group's treasury, certainly running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But it went ba cically in three directions: directly to the SCLC to be used for the campaign or any other purpose; to the tax-exempt Martin Luther King Memorial Fund; and a separate SCL Foundation, also tax-exempt and separate from the direct efforts of the campaign.
Much of the big money went into the King memorial fund, established by Mrs. King and the Rer. Ralph David Abernathy, King's successor. For instance, one contribution given little publicity was a $275,000 grant from the Field Foundation of Chicago, part of a $1 million series of grants designed to forward the ideals and goals of the late SCLC leader.
Other sizable sums went to the SCL Foundation, it is understood, from people who wanted to contribute but wished to still write it off their taxes.
Together, these two funds represent a virtually untouched reserve from which the SCLO hopes to continue operating.
Contributions to the SCLC for the campaign itself came in from all over in large and small amounts. Conspicuous were such donations as $12,000 from singer Ethel Merman, a similar sum from the New York postal workers union and other gifts running into the thousands, plus promises of more, from show business personalities.
More modest donations continue to arrive at SCLC offices, many passed along via church organizations, labor unions and Negro leaders.
But SCLC was spending money, too, its expenses mounting from the time the first bus rolled toward Washington. These expenses also continue.
The Rev. Andrew Young, executive vice president of SCLC, now running the show while Abernathy is in jail, said he has had no opportunity to add up the campaign's expenses. But he ventured some estimates.
Young said the last he heard, the seven-week campaign cost the SCLC about $50,000 a week. The cost of building tent city he said, ran about $100,000.
Although money continued to come in during the campaign, he said, the bills came in at an equal pace. "It was a day-to-day operation with the bills and money running neck and neck," he said.
One of the most significant expense items, Young believes, was transportation. Most of this represents the costs of bringing participants to Washington and sending many of them back, although it also includes a considerable amount for traveling by staff members.
The bus expenses varied from caravan to caravan. The first group to arrive came from the South with only a few brief stops, at a cost of about $11,000 for 11 buses. Another Southern caravan started in old buses from Edwards, Miss., at an initial cost of $2,500 but worked its way slowly through the South, stopping frequently to raise money for the next leg of the trip.
COST OF CONSTRUCTION
Some $10,000 was set aside for the mule train, but the cost probably ran higher to pay for shipping it from Atlanta to Washington. SCLC also paid for the major part of the buses that brought the delegation of Mexican-Americans from the Southwest.
Most of the money spent to build the encampment, about $70,000, went for plywood. That wood, carted away last week, belongs to SCLC, and one offer to buy it for $15,000 already has come in.
The wood was purchased through Hechinger Building Materials. Officials of the firm say the SCLC was charged the lumber costs only. with the company absorbing about $10,000 in handling and overhead connected with getting the material to the tent city site.
John Hechinger, chairman of the District City Council and a member of the family that runs the building-supply firm, said he contributed a small amount directly to SCLC. He would not say how much.
Once the wood and other materials arrived at the site, a massive effort was required to put up the encampment. Here, as on a number of other fronts, volunteers from the Washington area, led by students and staff of Xaverian College in Silver Spring, got the job done. Dwellings for about 3,000 people and a number of large buildings quickly went up.
The Rev. John Adams, director of the National Council of Churches liaison office with the campaign, said his staff had filtered over $10.000 to SCLC through a special office in the Methodist Building.
This was only a small part of the donations that went into the campaign he continued, because his office told most major donors to send their money directly to SCLC's Atlanta headquarters.
Making an estimate of the total amount he believes religious groups sent to the campaign, Adams placed the figure at $125,000. That, he added, “is probably low.”
Adams said he was not including the major $50.000 donation from the United Presbyterians, U.S.A., that Abernathy announced from the platform on Solidarity Day because Adams believes that contribution was earmarked for the Martin Luther King Memorial Fund to be used for work in slum rehabilitation.
Money for the campaign is continuing to come in-$1.000 came in over the week, Adams said.
Citing an increase in calls to his office, Adams said the closing of Resurrection City and the mass arrests of last week have given him the impression that “we are entering into a phase where there could be greater support (for the campaign) than earlier.
“I have the feeling,” he continued. “that the dramatic way the closing took place with the overreaction of the power structure, and the beautiful nonviolent action has impressed the clergy."
COST TO TAXPAYER
Adams said the National Council of Churches has been working since Felruary to raise funds and places a value of about $75,000 on the staff services expended.
What the campaign cost the taxpayer (irrespective of what gains the SCLC made in prying loose federal funds for social welfare programs) is falling into place. The total will be about $1 million, most of it charged to the District gur. ernment budget.
On Friday, separate estimates came from the District budget office and the Interior Department on money spent during the campaign and estimates for restoring the 12-acre West Potomac Park site to its former condition.
Through last Sunday. what District budget oificer D. Peter Herman calls “expenditures above normal" totaled close to $.500,000, mostly for police overtime. Extra spending for last week probably will run more than $100 000). The Interior Department said extra spending by the National Park Service totaled about $160,000.
Restoration costs were computed separately with the total for the park cleanup, mostly borne by Interior, put at $8.7,000. National Guard and other military-alert expenses have not yet been determined.
A report of District expenditures from Herman's office Friday prompted Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W. Va., to comment to the Senate: "Had the campaign produced substantive results for the poor, these losses suffered might be somewhat less painful."
Young expressed just the opposite reaction. Asked about the government figures, he said : "That is a very small cost to pay for the education of this nation."
No history of the campaign can be written without mention of the sustained contribution in money, material and volunteered time by the people, businesses and organizations in the Washington area. It was considerable.
“I think this community responded very well," said the Rev. Geno Baroni, director of the Washington Catholic Archdiocese's urban affairs office and one of a number of churchmen who labored night and day soliciting and coordinating all manner of support programs.
Once again, it would be impossible to measure precisely the scope of this support, partly because so much of it was intangible and partly because nobody, either at SCLC or in the community, was in central command.
HOW IT WORKED
It was instead a free-flowing, frequently hand-to-mouth operation, one emergency after another tackled as circumstances demanded. It worked something like this:
A call would come in from Hawthorne School to say that no paper plates and cups were available for the next day's meals, or from Resurrection City asking for drug and toilet articles. At any of a number of church organizations or other agencies, someone would get on a phone, calling department stores or drug firms. Somewhere along the line, a firm would agree to help, either through a direct contribution or through providing the supplies wholesale.
One operative phrase throughout the campaign was this: "Meeting human needs." It was used by those who were fully enthusiastic about the campaign, but also by those who had strong reservations about what was happening at Resurrection City but wanted to help the people involved.
Another theme constantly heard concerned the problem of coordinating with SCLC. “There was always a gap between the SCLC information and the facts," is the way one religious leader put it.
A Washington business executive put the situation this way: “There were always problems, trucks getting turned back from the camp or workmen stopped, and lots of time wasted. And toward the last, it was sort of like putting supplies into a sinking ship. But the need was always there."
Despite all the direct contributions to SCLC, many individuals and firms backed away from this route, both because it appeared unbusinesslike and because of tax considerations. They elected instead to earmark it for specific purposes and channel it through the churches or agencies such as the District's Health and Welfare Council.
Feeding the residents of Resurrection City represents the biggest single part, and one of the best organized parts, of the Washington area's efforts.
Under the leadership of Giant Food's Joseph Danzansky, a committee put together a mass feeding program that cost an estimated $70,000. This was sup plemented by the week of hundreds of volunteers, mostly at Howard U'niversity and at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church.
The church effort, much of it funneled through Father Baroni's office, the Protestant Council of Churches and the Jewish Community Council, concentrated largely on housing and feeding people outside Resurrection City.
According to the Rev. Philip Newell of the Council of Churches, money that came into the three big church organizations and was used for these programs totaled about $15,000.
But this sum, said Newell, represents "only a fraction, certainly less than half” of the money spent by upwards of 200 churches and synagogues in the metropolitan area, many of which operated their own programs and called central religious offices only when the demand for help outstripped their resources.
Another group that operated throughout the campaign was a medical committee headed by Dr. Edward C. Mazique. Without charge, about 500 persons, doctors and other medical personnel served the poor people. Drugs were con