The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Poor People's Campaign MLK Message to White House and Congress

On MLK Day, Poor People's Campaign delivers video message calling on President, Congressional Leaders, to meet to address urgent needs

To mark Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Monday sent a video message to the White House and every member of Congress demanding the president and Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle meet with poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders, economists, lawyers and public health specialists to address the systemic policy violence that threatens the soul of our nation.

"When prophets are killed or assassinated, our job is to pick up the baton and continue the work," the Rev. William J. Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said in the video message. "Sadly, many will go to King events today and claim to honor the prophet. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle will go while even today, they are standing diametrically opposed to the things he fought for: addressing systemic poverty, addressing racism, ensuring voter protection, just immigration policy, just treatment of indigenous people, health care for all, and dealing with the war economy and militarism."

Addressing Republicans and Democrats alike, the Rev. Barber demanded meetings to address poverty, voting rights, and more. He expressed the unwavering commitment of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival to continue the fight for a public policy agenda that adequately addresses the needs of 140 million poor and low-wealth people in the country. The Poor People’s Campaign said it would dispatch its members in the coming days to make demands in their home districts to their Congressional representatives because refusal to act on issues like living wages and voting rights while people are dying is unacceptable.

“Our movement must grow, it must intensify, It must be emboldened,” said the Rev. Barber. “What we cannot and will not do is be silent or unseen anymore.”

Poor People's Campaign Petition Congress to Truly Honor MLK Legacy | Press

The request to meet with President Biden follows a letter sent to him from campaign leaders in September 2021 during the debate around Build Back Better demanding a meeting. And it comes after the president pledged on the campaign trail in 2020 and to the Poor People’s Camapign in 2021 that ending poverty would be a "theory of change" for his administration.

“This Martin Luther King Day, we must continue a campaign for social, political and economic rights, not simply commemorate a man,” said the Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Today and every day let’s honor King as we end racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of health care, militarism, and this false narrative of Christian nationalism.”

The video includes messages from impacted people from North Carolina to West Virginia to Kentucky to California, calling on elected officials to fight for health care, living wages and more so everyone can thrive. The messages come from: Xzandria Armstrong from East Point, Georgia; Jake Kastenhuber from Ithaca, New York; Tiffany Pyette, from Jenkins, Kentucky; Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs, president of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Matthew Byers of North Carolina; Pam Garrison of Fayette County, West Virginia; and Kenia Alcocer of Los Angeles, California.

The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is building a generationally transformative digital gathering called the Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington, on June 20, 2020. At that assembly, we will demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism by implementing our Moral Agenda.