Low-income people and economic justice advocates from across the United States will unite on Saturday and Sunday "to challenge poverty and revive democracy amidst recession, pandemic, and protests" with a historic digital assembly and march sponsored by the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
"Poor and impacted people will come together to tell the nation what it means to not have enough food to eat, to wonder how to keep a roof over your family's head, and to have to choose between risking your life by going to work or staying at home and not getting paid."
—Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Poor People's Campaign
"On June 20th, poor and impacted people will come together to tell the nation what it means to not have enough food to eat, to wonder how to keep a roof over your family's head, and to have to choose between risking your life by going to work or staying at home and not getting paid," Poor People's Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis said in a June 10 statement.
Theoharis—director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice—explained that participants "will share the bold and visionary demands people are putting forth that can solve these grave injustices and the powerful and creative resistance of people organizing across the country."
"History shows that when those most impacted by injustice come together in a powerful movement, that this country can indeed change for the better," she said. "Those whose backs are against the wall are pushing this whole nation towards justice today."
Learn more or sign up to attend the digital gathering on the event website here.
The Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington will be a 2.5 hour program broadcast on Saturday June 20 at 10 am and 6 pt ET, and Sunday June 21 at 6 pm ET at June2020.org. MSNBC as well as other local and national media will also stream the event, according to the Poor People's Campaign.
Almost 700 ppl were dying every day from poverty before COVID. The crisis is only deepening and we need systemic change now. Join the #PoorPeoplesCampaign's Digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington 6/20: https://t.co/sEnhyfcSHl.
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) June 19, 2020
Poor People's Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said earlier this month that "when we began organizing the Poor People's Assembly and March two years ago, we knew 140 million people—43% of the nation were poor or low-income and that 700 people died each day, or 250,000 a year, from poverty."
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"We knew racist voter suppression was blocking voters from casting their ballot and blocking progressive policy decisions," Barber continued. "We knew over 80 million people were uninsured or underinsured and millions were homeless and without clean water. And we knew that we had a war economy with a gross and unnecessary budget."
"We knew all of these realities are morally indefensible, constitutionally inconsistent and economically insane, undermining our national health," he said. "And then a pandemic hit and exposed the wounds of racism and poverty, and a lynching by police of a black man on camera poured salt in the wound, which makes our call for a moral fusion coalition of all people to address five interlocking injustices even the more relevant."
The interlocking injustices that motivate the campaign are systemic racism and poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Concerns about systemic racism in the U.S. have drawn global attention in recent weeks as massive protests against law enforcement violence toward people of color broke out after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Barber—who is also president of Repairers of the Breach and a bishop and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina—took to Twitter Friday to promote the digital gathering with a reference to Martin Luther King Jr., who organized the initial Poor People's Campaign and march in 1968 before his death. Despite King's assassination, the action for economic justice was still held in the nation's capital.
Instead of assembling in camps near the National Mall—as #PoorPeoplesCampaign protesters did in the wake of King's death in 1968—this weekend's gathering will offer poor people a chance to describe their lives, live-streamed to a national audience.https://t.co/BRZwZyZ6Oj
— Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (@RevDrBarber) June 19, 2020
Poor and low-income people from over 40 states are slated to share their stories for the event—including families impacted by police brutality, Midwestern service workers who have worked through the coronavirus pandemic without personal protective equipment, mothers who have lost children due to lack of healthcare, and residents of Cancer Alley in Louisiana.
A coal miner from Appalachia and an Apache elder who is petitioning the federal government to stop a corporation from destroying a sacred site in Arizona are also planning to share their testimonies. Speakers will be introduced by former Vice President Al Gore as well as actors and activists including Erika Alexander, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, and David Oyelowo.