Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, speaks about the Third Reconstruction resolution outside the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2021. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, speaks about the Third Reconstruction resolution outside the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2021. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

#MoralMonday Event Elevates Progressive Push for 'Third Reconstruction' Resolution

"We have the power to end poverty," says Rep. Pramila Jayapal. "We must implement bold proposals that center the poor—providing housing, healthcare, climate justice, and equitable public education."

Jessica Corbett

Just days after U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal joined with leaders of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival to announce a historic congressional resolution detailing a comprehensive vision for eradicating poverty on a national scale, supporters hosted a #MoralMonday event celebrating the effort.

The resolution—Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages From the Bottom Up (pdf)—unveiled last week by Jayapal (D-Wash.), Lee (D-Calif.), and campaign co-chairs Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz  Theoharis, begins by noting that "there are over 140 million people who are poor, low-wealth, or just one emergency away from economic ruin in the United States."

Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a statement that "poverty exists because we allow it to exist. In the wealthiest country in the world, 140 million people are poor because we have chosen to allow it to be so."

"We have the power to end poverty," Jayapal said. "We must implement bold proposals that center the poor—providing housing, healthcare, climate justice, and equitable public education. In everything we do, we must take the extraordinary wealth that is here in America and design policies that build from the bottom up, putting at the center of all of our solutions the real people whose lives are most at stake."

Sarah Anderson, who directs the Global Economy Project of the Institute for Policy Studies, summarized the sweeping new resolution:

A long list of proposed economic policies focus on eradicating poverty and sharply reducing racial and economic inequality. They include a federal jobs program to build up climate resilient public infrastructure, universal healthcare and paid leave, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, and guaranteeing the right to form and join unions.

The resolution also calls for bold action to address the inter-connected injustices of systemic racism, ecological devastation, and militarism. Proposals include expanding voting rights, comprehensive and just immigration reform, and guaranteeing Native and Indigenous rights.

The Poor People's Campaign's website explains the roots of the resolution.

"Drawing on the transformational history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the civil rights struggles of the 20th century," the campaign says, "the Third Reconstruction is a revival of our constitutional commitment to establish justice, provide for the general welfare, end decades of austerity, and recognize that policies that center the 140 million are also good economic policies that can heal and transform the nation."

The progressive push for a Third Reconstruction comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages on despite national efforts to boost the U.S. vaccination rate—even at the expense of poorer countries—and people worldwide are still struggling with the economic consequences.

"We are facing a poverty crisis on top of a public health crisis that is disproportionately impacting communities of color and low-income communities," Lee noted last week. "It's past time that we address the historical injustices of structural racism and economic inequality and center the needs of the millions who have fallen into poverty just since the start of this pandemic."

Lee, who co-chairs House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, added that she is proud to introduce this "transformative" resolution with Jayapal and to "work alongside the Revs. Barber and Theoharis to dismantle the systems that have perpetuated poverty and low wages in this country for generations."

In their celebrations of the resolution, Barber and Theoharis reiterated key messages of the Poor People's Campaign, which builds on the 1968 efforts of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

According to Theoharis, "This resolution realizes that we must simultaneously deal with the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of healthcare, militarism, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism that blames the poor instead of the systems that cause poverty."

Barber, who spearheaded the #MoralMonday protests that began in North Carolina in 2013, said that the resolution "emerges from the pain and organizing power of the 140 million people living in poverty or with low wages in this nation."

During Monday's event, organizers emphasized the necessity of federal action to address poverty.

As Pam Garrison, a Poor People's Campaign organizer in West Virginia, put it: "We have been ignored. Our labor has been exploited. We have been taken advantage of for far too long. This is an emergency."

Monday's event for the resolution was held amid reporting that President Joe Biden will break key campaign promises in a budget proposal that is expected later this week as well as fears that he will further weaken his infrastructure plan—which some progressives charge is already inadequate—to appeal to congressional Republicans.

"While not directly addressing President Biden's proposals, the Third Reconstruction resolution goes beyond the administration's commitments to date in several key areas," noted Anderson. "For example, to secure resources for public investment, the resolution calls for redirecting 10% of the military budget and generating revenue by fully repealing the 2017 corporate tax rate cut and introducing new taxes on wealth and Wall Street trading."

As Barber declared Monday: "The solutions are here. There is no scarcity. What we have is a scarcity of will—but that will end with us."

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

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Outrageous and Shameful': Dems May Cut Paid Leave Due to Manchin's Opposition

Decrying the plan, advocacy groups vowed that "the American people are not going to allow that essential human need to be ignored and negotiated away behind closed doors."

Jessica Corbett ·

Open Letter Warns Trump's 'Big Lie' GOP Poses Existential Threat to Democracy

"Now is the time for leaders in all walks of life—for citizens of all political backgrounds and persuasions—to come to the aid of the republic."

Brett Wilkins ·

Ahead of Historic House Hearing, Fresh Big Oil Misinformation Campaign Exposed

"It's always helpful to remember that big fossil fuel companies (besides being overwhelmingly responsible for carbon pollution) are also skeevy disinformation hucksters."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Very Welcome' Progress as Iran Agrees to Restart Talks on Nuclear Deal Sabotaged by Trump

One peace advocate urged all sides to reconvene negotiations "as soon as possible and with renewed urgency" to avert "disastrous" consequences for Iran and the world.

Brett Wilkins ·

House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo