Nationwide, Workers Join Clergy to Demand Lawmakers Advance Politics of Morality

"A living wage is a human right," protesters declare as they prepare to march on the capital in Richmond, Virginia as part of a national day of action. (Photo: Raise Up for $15/Twitter)

Nationwide, Workers Join Clergy to Demand Lawmakers Advance Politics of Morality

Clergy join with low wage workers to call for $15 minimum wage and declare firm opposition to 'systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family.'

Demanding that elected officials and candidates for office embrace morally just policies that include living wages, health care for all, racial justice, and union rights, thousands of workers led by clergy are holding protests at 27 state capitals and Washington, D.C. on Monday.

Dubbed the Higher Ground Moral Day of Action, the demonstrations are being spearheaded by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and architect of the Moral Mondays movement, and accompanied by activists with the national Fight for $15 movement.

At the rallies, which began at 11am EDT, workers, clergy, and community leaders will read and deliver a public policy framework entitled the Moral Declaration, signed by more than 10,000 people and 2,500 faith leaders, to their respective governors, U.S. senators, and candidates for office.

The declaration calls for "a radical revolution of values," in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and disputes the prevailing notions of morality in politics.

"We challenge the position that the preeminent moral issues today are about prayer in public schools, abortion, and homosexuality," it states. "Instead, we declare the deepest public concerns of our faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations."

The declaration echoes the rousing address Barber gave at the Democratic National Convention in July, during which he called on Democrats to "shock this nation" as the "moral defibrillators of our time."

The agenda serves as a foil to the vitriol, and what it describes as the "divide-and-conquer strategies," being put forth by "extremist" lawmakers. It seeks to "retur[n] public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values," by standing firmly "against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family."

As such, the moral platform includes: criminal justice reform, expanded voting rights, "equality in education," healthcare for all, "fair policies for immigrants," "critiquing policies around warmongering," a "just transition away from fossil fuels," and "pro-labor, anti-poverty, anti-racist policies that build up economic democracy through employment, living wages, the alleviation of disparate unemployment."

The movement is also calling on voters to support politicians "who have the highest capacity to advance moral public policy agendas."

The day of action is being dedicated to former Missouri McDonald's worker Myrna De Los Santos, who died on Aug. 27 at the age of 49 due to complications from diabetes. According to Fight for $15, her condition went untreated because her $8 per hour wage did not cover basic health care and she was prevented from receiving Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act because Republican lawmakers blocked expansion in her state.

Demonstrations are being held from coast to coast, at state capitals including: Montgomery, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Sacramento, Calif.; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Washington, D.C.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Atlanta; Springfield, Ill.; Indianapolis; Frankfort, Ky.; Baton Rouge, La.; Boston; Saint Paul, Minn.; Jackson, Miss.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Concord, N.H.; Santa Fe, N.M.; Raleigh, N.C.; Carson City, Nev.; Albany, N.Y.; Columbus, Ohio; Harrisburg, Pa.; Columbia, S.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas; Richmond, Va.; and Madison, Wis..

Updates are being shared online with the hashtag #MoralDayofAction.

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