A National Call for Moral Revival - The Poor People's Campaign
June 23 - Mass Rally on Washington DC Mall
We traveled in a van, packed with people, luggage, food, and soft drinks, for a 13 hour road trip to the Washington DC area, then we stayed at a UU church, sleeping on the floor for about 5 hours, the night before the Mass Rally. Most of us had engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the six weeks leading up to the Rally, some arrested multiple times, some even spending time in jail.
Highlights of the Rally included addresses from the two national co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign:
Rev. Dr. William Barber has a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University; and a doctorate from Drew University with a concentration in public policy and pastoral care. He has had multiple leadership roles, including as the former president of the NAACP in North Carolina, and as a bishop in his denomination.
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis earned a M.Div. in 2004 from Union Theological Seminary, where she was the first William Sloane Coffin Scholar; and her PhD from Union in New Testament and Christian Origins. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor in the United States and has published several articles and book chapters sharing her vision that poverty can be ended and that the poor can be agents of social change.
Both of them are extraordinarily gifted and inspired leaders. At the rally, we also heard from those who have suffered injustices. Openly LGBTQ people are welcome as speakers at the rally, leaders and participants in the campaign. It is part of the distorted morality the Campaign rejects. LGBTQ people are welcome in all roles by the PPC.
After the Rally we marched en masse toward the Capitol, as a group estimated to number over 10,000 people. The direct action was to deliver to the Capitol letters for members of Congress listing demands of the Poor People’s Campaign.
The Work Ahead
When we returned to Tennessee, we added many new friends, campaign members, to our Facebook network. We are eager to continue the work.
The next phase of the campaign will focus on voter registration, building a broader network, and creating a detailed list of policy demands, which will be released late in the summer. “We surely want to influence the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 Presidential election,” said Rev Dr. Liz Theoharis.
Bernie Sanders has stated that 80% of poor people did not vote in the 2014 midterm elections. Politifact found this to be accurate, if defining poor people to be those not having financial security. To be financially secure, it meant: having a credit card, a savings or checking account, and a retirement or investment plan; not needing to borrow money; not falling behind on bills, rent or mortgage payments; and not receiving food assistance or Medicaid benefits. Improving on the only 20% who voted in the last midterms could make a big difference in election outcomes.