Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The Poor People's Campaign

The Poor People's Campaign has announced a new nationwide bus tour to draw attention to "real" national emergencies. (Photo:

To Counter Trump's Fake Border Crisis, Poor People's Campaign Tour Aims to Expose 'Real Emergencies' Nation Faces

Nationwide bus tour will highlight systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and "our distorted moral narrative."

Jessica Corbett

While President Donald Trump continues his push to divert billions of dollars toward building a border wall with a "constitutionally illegitimate" national emergency declaration, the Poor People's Campaign has announced a bus tour across the United States to expose "real emergencies" that his administration has ignored and exacerbated.

"Instead of tackling the real emergencies... the president is diverting funds to build a monument to white supremacy at our southern border."
—Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Poor People's Campaign

"Instead of tackling the real emergencies," said campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, "the president is diverting funds to build a monument to white supremacy at our southern border." Meanwhile, she pointed out, 140 million Americans (pdf) are "just one emergency away from poverty," and 14 million households can't even afford their water bills.

The National Emergency Truth & Poverty Bus Tour is set to begin in late March and has stops scheduled in 27 states and Washington, D.C. It will focus on five sweeping issues impacting Americans: systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy, and "our distorted moral narrative."

Although the tour comes partly as a challenge to Trump's racist anti-immigration policies, campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber II emphasized that these "socio-political and moral emergencies" need to be addressed by lawmakers across the political spectrum. As Barber put, "Democrats haven't done enough to make things better and Republicans do too much to make things worse."

"Part of the problem that we see in policies of Democrats vs. Republicans is one talks about they want the wall and the other side said they don't want the wall," Barber told The Associated Press. "But nobody has sat down and said: 'Here are the real emergencies and here is how these resources could be used to address these real emergencies.'"

In addition to shining a light on major problems plaguing the nation's poorest communities, according to a statement from the campaign, the tour also "kicks off an organizing effort aimed at registering poor and impacted people, clergy, and activists for a June Poor People's Moral Action Congress in Washington, D.C."

The bus tour and the summer meeting alike aim to drive home the point that, as Barber and Theoharis argued in an op-ed published Monday by the Guardian, "in today's America, the real emergency is that a quarter of a million people die from poverty each year while our political system refuses to use the great wealth of this nation to lift the load of poverty."

The pair outlined various ways that Trump's $8 billion in contested border wall funding could be better spent:

  • 3.36 million children or 2.25 million adults receiving low-income healthcare for a year.
  • 774,312 military veterans receiving VA healthcare for a year.
  • 98,982 elementary school teaching jobs for a year.
  • 107,999 clean energy jobs for a year.
  • 897,800 Head Start slots for children for a year.

"It's time to talk about the real emergencies plaguing our nation and the real moral issues of our day—the lack of healthcare, living wage jobs, clean water and sanitation, the militarization of our communities, the attack on indigenous sovereignty," they concluded. "It's horrific that America has come to this. But just as shameful is that we have the power to change it, but don't."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

DOJ Sues to Prevent Arizona's 'Onerous' Proof of Citizenship Voting Law

Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke said the law "constitutes a textbook violation of the National Voter Registration Act."

Brett Wilkins ·

House Progressives Urge Reforms to 'Hold These Rogue Justices to Account'

Recent rulings by the Supreme Court's right-wing majority have made clear the need for substantive changes, including expansion, argues Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Kenny Stancil ·

'Win for Wildlife' as Federal Court Restores Endangered Species Protections Gutted by Trump

"In the midst of a global extinction crisis, the court's decision to vacate the rules will help ensure that imperiled species receive the protections they desperately need," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

Senate Urged to Block Biden's Pro-Privatization Nominee for Social Security Board

"The Senate can, and must, block this terrible nomination," Social Security Works said of the administration's choice of Andrew Biggs.

Jake Johnson ·

GOP Senator Defends Guantánamo Bay Prison as 'Absolutely Vital Institution'

Sen. James Inhofe's comments come as congressional Democrats are reviving efforts to close the notorious U.S. military prison.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo