A Moral Movement is Afoot in United States With Poor People in the Lead

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After a two-year long mobilization, The Poor People’s Campaign in the United States is all set to launch 40 days of nonviolent moral fusion direct action

By Rev. Liz Theoharis/ The Dawn News/ May 01, 2018

The Poor People’s Campaign was envisioned and organized by Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1968 as effort to gain economic justice for the poor. Nearly 50 years after the assassination of Dr. King, a host of organizations have come together seeking a moral renewal, and concrete action on a host of issues ranging from voting rights and the threat of militarization to environmental sustainability.

“I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights…[W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years, we have been in a reform movement…That after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution…In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.” – Martin Luther King, May 1967

From tens of thousands of families whose water has been shut off in Detroit and  those whose family members have died because of the lack of health care and Medicaid expansion in Vermont, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Alabama, to thousands of immigrants crying out for hugs not walls at the US/Mexico Border, and  families living in raw sewage, with tropical diseases that had been eradicated decades back, reemerging in Lowndes County, Alabama and in other rural communities across the country. From hundreds of thousands of people whose votes have been suppressed because of racist gerrymandering, the ending of early voting and same day registration, and closed polling places, to homeless encampments under attack in Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, California, New Jersey and New York…

Indeed, there is a moral movement afoot in this country with poor people in the lead.

Consider these facts:

43.5% of Americans are poor or low income

51% of children live in poverty and food insecure households

We have fewer voting protections today than we did 52 years ago

The United States spends $630 billion each year for the military and $183 billion for education, jobs, housing and other basic human needs.

And pollution caused $9 million deaths last year and 4 million American families were exposed to unsafe drinking water.

As we ready ourselves for 40 days of non-violent moral fusion direct action through the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival today, we are serving notice that we will not remain silent while the basic institutions of our democracy are undermined. We are planning for a season of sustained organizing. We are calling for one of the largest waves of nonviolent direct action in U.S. history.

This Campaign is from the bottom up. We are focusing on building power in States across the country. We take seriously the admonition from Dr. King to go back to our States, to our communities and to build the power of the people. The 40 days of moral action will take place in State houses across the country and in our nation’s capital Washington DC. And that will just be the beginning.

( Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is Co-Chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival)

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