In March 1968, Martin Luther King met with civil rights leaders from across the country to encourage new work to end poverty and create equity for black, brown, and white people living at the bottom of the economic ladder in the United States. He was in the midst of a campaign to support the garbage workers in Nashville. On April 4, 1968 he was tragically gunned down. Never the less the Poor Peoples Campaign began on schedule that spring.
Poor people from around the country came to DC to establish Resurrection City on the National Mall. Public demonstrations and acts of nonviolent civic disobedience to protest the plight of the poor were held. Boycotts of major businesses and industries were held to to urge leaders from the economic sector to support the campaign’s federal legislative agenda. Unfortunately, the unity and organization needed to successfully execute all phases of the campaign eluded the organizers. It was an ambitious and visionary effort.
Fifty years later, poverty is still with us. In December 2017 a group of fifty ministers decided to revive Rev. King’s 1968 Poverty Campaign. The campaign is a National Call for Moral Revival. The new campaign is headed by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a black minister and civil rights leader from North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a white theologian originally from Milwaukee.
The campaign begins Monday, May 14 with a demonstration and civil disobedience at the US Capital and state capitals across the country. There will be demonstrations over the next 40 days focused to highlight Women and Children in Poverty; Systemic racism and poverty; Proliferation of Gun Violence; Health Care; and Education, Jobs and Housing. Support from religious denominations include the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the Christian Church.
You can learn more about the 2018 Poor Peoples Campaign at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org. There you can read about the 1968 Campaign, review a report on the current status of poverty in the US: The Souls of the Poor, and learn about how you can get involved.
Training is required to participate in the demonstrations and rallies. Four upcoming trainings are available:
- Saturday, May 12: 1:00-4: 00 pm, Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M St NW, Washington, DC
- Saturday, May 12: 5:00-8: 00 pm, Metropolitan AME Church, 1518 M St NW, Washington, DC
- Sunday, May 13: 2:00-5: 00 pm, National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington, DC
- Monday, May 14: 10:00 –12:00pm, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 301 A St SE, Washington, DC 20003
Every Monday from May 14 to June 18 at 2 p.m. on the East Capitol Lawn. Please arrive by 1:45 and if you are clergy wear your clerical garb.
If you are interested in participating and have questions, contact Rev. Cunningham, or WPC members Susie Farr and Cindy Stevens.