Countering Myths

From The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After The Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Poverty, The War Economy/Militarism and Our National Morality (April 2018).

The Souls of Poor Folk is an assessment of the conditions today and trends of the past 50 years in the United States. In 1967 and 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., alongside a multiracial coalition of grassroots leaders, religious leaders, and other public figures, began organizing with poor and marginalized communities across racial and geographic divides. Together, they aimed to confront the underlying structures that perpetuated misery in their midst. The move towards a Poor People’s Campaign was a challenge to the national morality: it was a movement to expose the injustice of the economic, political, and social systems in the U.S. during their time.


50 years later, The Souls of Poor Folk challenges us to take a look at how these conditions have changed since 1968. The stark findings draw from a wide variety of sources, including primary and secondary data as well as interviews with and testimonies by people who have been living through and responding to these changes on the ground. Their words offer deep insight for understanding these conditions and why these leaders feel compelled to call for a Poor People’s Campaign today.

Continue reading “Countering Myths”

Pamela Rush. Presente.

pamela
PC: Catherine Flowers

Re-posted from the Montgomery Advertiser. Passed along by the Poor People’s Campaign.

On the afternoon of June 12, 2018, Pamela Rush found herself in Washington, D.C. She had traveled a long way from Tyler, a rural community of about 1,200 people in Lowndes County, to testify in front of a coalition of elected officials convened by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and late Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings.

Rush had come to share her story and that of 140 million more like her. As a part of the Poor People’s Campaign — a continuation of the organizing Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. began in 1967 to unite the nation’s poor — Rush had traveled about 700 miles to D.C. to demand Congress do something to eradicate the crushing poverty that so many American families had come to know well. Continue reading “Pamela Rush. Presente.”

Day of Fasting and Focus

ppcFrom Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival:

Join us Monday June 8th, two weeks after George Floyd’s death, for a Day of Fasting and Focus which will culminate at 5:00pm when we are asking people to stop where you are for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in silence in honor of the time George Floyd had the literal knee of the state on his neck.

Take the pledge to participate in a National Moment of Silence in Honor of George Floyd and other victims of police brutality on Monday at 5pm EST. Continue reading “Day of Fasting and Focus”

A Moral Reckoning

PPCFrom The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (August 8, 2019).

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.
Jeremiah 7:5-8

One week ago, we were in El Paso at the invitation of the Border Network for Human Rights to highlight the violence that their community has been suffering. We heard stories of families separated, asylum seekers turned away and refugees detained like prisoners of war. We heard how their community has been militarized and how poor border communities have been especially targeted. We promised that we would do everything in our power to compel the nation to see this violence. Just a few days later, a terrorist opened fire in El Paso. And then another attack occurred in Dayton. Continue reading “A Moral Reckoning”

The 2020 Poor People’s Moral Budget

PPCAnother compelling resource from the Poor People’s Campaign. Click here for the full report.

In April 2018, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival released a Moral Agenda and Declaration of Fundamental Rights. The demands contained within that document present a comprehensive response to the systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, and war economy plaguing our country today. For the 140 million people who are poor, or one emergency away from being poor, we know these demands are necessary. This Poor People’s Moral Budget asks, given the resources of our society, whether these demands are also possible. Our answer is a resounding yes. Continue reading “The 2020 Poor People’s Moral Budget”

Poor People Have Not Heard Their Names

barberAn excerpt from Rev. William Barber’s “The Economy Doesn’t Work for Most Americans,” an article published in The Guardian this week. 

One hundred and forty million poor and low-income people in America are a $400 emergency away from not being able to pay their bills next month. That’s 43.5% of the population in the world’s richest nation. While Democrats have championed the middle class and Republicans have promoted tax cuts and corporate welfare, poor people have not heard their names in American public life for the past 40 years, even as the gap between the rich and the poor has grown to levels of inequality we haven’t seen since before the Great Depression.

While both parties work to energize and mobilize their base, it is no accident that the single largest voting bloc in American politics is not those who voted Republican or Democrat in the last presidential election, but those who did not vote at all. Roughly 100 million Americans who were eligible to vote in 2016 didn’t cast a ballot. In 2018, while many celebrated a historic turnout for a midterm election, the numbers of those who didn’t participate were still higher.

For the Least of These

feast1
Woodcut by Julia Jack-Scott

By Kelly Gallagher

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these siblings of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 35-36,40

The Rev. Dr. William Barber and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis have created a core principal in the Poor People’s Campaign that they have held firm to and modeled over and over again – to lift up and deepen the leadership of those most impacted by racism, poverty, environmental devastation, and militarism. I like the language of “most impacted” better than “the least of these,” because “least of these” in today’s society can have connotations of “not as good as” or “not as important as.” Either way, the point is the same. Like Jesus, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is calling us to engage the margins in an intimate and profound way. A way, I daresay, that has become foreign for many in the mainline church. Continue reading “For the Least of These”

Tommy Tackett and Bill Wylie-Kellermann begin 12 Day Jail Sentence

33170060_10214353732610697_5007133656053972992_oBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

On May 21, 2018, 16 people were arrested in Michigan as part of the Poor People’s Campaign 40 days of actions around the country. They blocked the entrances to the Department of Health and Human Services. It was a cry against the systemic racism so ingrained in our systems that claim to be supporting the poor. Continue reading “Tommy Tackett and Bill Wylie-Kellermann begin 12 Day Jail Sentence”

We Need a Moral Breakthrough

BarberAn excerpt from Rev. William Barber’s address presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on December 6, 2017.

We are here tonight, and 62 years ago would have been the fifth day of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Today, when the prophetic actions of Rosa Parks like Shiphra and Puah in the Bible, chose to challenge the Pharaoh of Jim Crow. She sat down and birthed a movement on a stage that produced a prophet like Moses named Martin. She sparked a nonviolent revolution. Continue reading “We Need a Moral Breakthrough”