From May 13- June 23, watch the news for the launch of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. On Earth Peace has officially endorsed this effort and we are working to spread the word in our constituency. Organizing in at least 40 states, the (new) Poor People’s Campaign is an effort to catalyze people into “an unsettling force” in U.S. politics (to use a phrase from MLK), which can serve as “defibrillators of democracy” (to use a phrase from Rev. Dr. William Barber, campaign co-chair).
The campaign is an effort to reignite the Poor People’s Campaign that was being organized at the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968. The 1968 campaign connected African-Americans, Appalachian coal-miners, Puerto Ricans, farm workers, Native Americans to press for guaranteed income for the poor in the United States, a transfer of priority and budget from the war in Vietnam to a domestic “war on poverty,” and the construction of 500,000 units of low-income housing every year until ghettos were eliminated in the US.
The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign is structured around 5 areas of concern: Systemic Racism, Systemic Poverty and Equality, the War Economy, Ecological Devastation, and a distorted Moral Narrative. Systemic Racism: political and economic structures that prevent access by people of color to power and opportunity. Systemic Poverty and Inequality: political and economic structures that keep people poor. The War Economy: a state of permanent war abroad and at home, which provides profits for arms manufacturers and the private prison industry while criminalizing poor, black and brown people at home and vilifying “enemies” abroad. Ecological Devastation: Destruction of the planet’s living systems. Shifting the Moral Narrative: Centering the lives of poor and black and brown people in all political and economic decisions.
I serve as Oregon’s co-chair for Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. In that role, I have begun to catalyze a network of nonviolence trainers in the state who are working to prepare people for public action during the May- June PPC launch and beyond. Sara Haldeman-Scarr, who is pastor of San Diego First Church of the Brethren and also a member of our current cohort of Beyond the Dream: The Radical Love of Martin Luther King, Jr., is part of the training effort in California. She writes, “The Poor People's Campaign is an amazing opportunity to unite the poor and disenfranchised and to challenge the interconnected evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economoy, and the ecological devastation. It feels like we are beginning where Martin Luther King, Jr. ended as we join together to continue the work toward equality and justice for all."
You can get connected with organizing in your state by signing up at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org. If you are already involved with the Poor People’s Campaign, drop us a note to [email protected] to let us know how it’s going!