ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - May 16 - Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) will host worldwide conversations on the connection between poverty and racism this month to mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and Racial Sobriety Month. Individuals and organizations from all five continents will have the opportunity to participate on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout May. The schedule of the three-hour broadcast can be found at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/globalwebcast.
“Every day, Catholic Charities agencies see the faces of the poor across America, and we know firsthand how race and poverty are interconnected,” said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, the National Member Service Center for more than 1,700 local Catholic Charities agencies across the country. “Throughout our history, whenever there have been issues that challenge our society and have great impact on the poor and marginalized, Catholic Charities has made bold statements about the moral imperatives that guide us and shape our society. We want to share our experience with the world of how all of us can address injustice by lending our voice to the conversation.”
Grounded in CCUSA’s paper, Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good, the global Webcast will look at the history of racial injustice in America and the importance of making a renewed commitment to racial equality. The Webcast also will help facilitate local discussions for groups to reflect and share fears, ignorance, and guilt they may feel in talking about the issue of racism.
While whites make up the majority of the poor in the United States, poverty rates are highest among minorities. U.S. Census figures show that in 2006, the overall national poverty rate was 12.3 percent, with the rate for African Americans at 24.3 percent, nearly three times higher than the 8.2 percent poverty rate for whites. The poverty rate for Hispanics is 21.8 percent and 23.2 percent for Native Americans.
“We all share in the responsibility of making Dr. King’s dream come true,” said Carolyn Tisdale, director of Catholic Charities of Memphis, who was at one of more than 130 sites in the United States that participated in the original broadcast on April 2. “I am struck by the fact that it has taken us 40 years to begin to have this discussion again. It is important that each of us assumes that personal responsibility and we participate in making a change.”
Catholic Charities USA’s members—more than 1,700 local agencies and institutions nationwide—provide help and create hope for more than 7.8 million people of all faiths and social and economic backgrounds. For more than 280 years, local Catholic Charities agencies have been providing a myriad of vital services in their communities, ranging from day care and counseling to food and housing. For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.