Poor People’s Campaign Plans June 29 Mass Assembly, March in DC

“This is a crisis moment for our democracy,” said one campaigner. “We need for our political leaders to become moral leaders and take seriously the needs and priorities of the millions of people struggling simply to survive.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 4-29-2024 by Common Dreams

Rev. William J. Barber II at the Democracy Awakening rally at U.S. Capitol in 2018. Photo: Becker1999/flickr/CC

Leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival on Monday announced plans for the Mass Poor People & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly & Moral March in Washington, D.C. on June 29, just over four months before the U.S. elections.

The aim of the assembly and march is to “mobilize the one-third of the U.S. electorate who are poor and low-wage infrequent voters” as well as to pressure political leaders to embrace a 17-point agenda during the 2024 election cycle and beyond.

“It does not stand to reason—morally, economically, or politically—that in the richest nation in the history of the world, 800 people die every day from poverty and low wealth,” declared Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. “Politicians then made the conscious choice to increase poverty to where it was before—an unconscionable reminder that mass poverty is a political choice, not an inevitable law of nature.”

“We are here to say we must restore the moral conscience of this nation, and elect leaders across the country who will make different choices—not to raise poverty, but to lower it; not to give out tax breaks to wealthy corporations, but to those who are struggling to make ends meet,” he continued. “These are the priorities of one-third of the U.S. electorate, and any candidate interested in activating these voters must speak to our issues and our values.”

The agenda, revealed during the campaign’s Monday press conference, is:

  1. Abolishing poverty as the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S.
  2. A living minimum wage of at least $15+/hour (indexed for inflation)
  3. Full and expanded voting rights
  4. No more voter suppression
  5. Guaranteed workers’ rights and labor rights
  6. Healthcare for all
  7. Affordable, adequate housing
  8. Strong social welfare and safety net programs
  9. An end to gun violence, profit, and proliferation
  10. Fully protected women’s rights
  11. Environmental justice that secures clean air and water
  12. Justice for all Indigenous nations
  13. Fully funded public education
  14. Just immigration laws
  15. Addressing militarism and the war economy
  16. Standing for peace not war; an immediate cease-fire in Gaza that allows humanitarian relief, the release of all hostages, and peace with justice to be pursued; and an end to genocide around the world
  17. An end to hate, division, and the extremist political agenda

“We are a resurrection of the unheard voices in this democracy, not an insurrection,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice. “After years of historic union drives and grassroots organizing, we are demonstrating our power at the polls in 2024. We will elect leaders with the courage to abolish poverty, raise wages, safeguard voting rights, and meet the basic needs of struggling families.”

In addition to Theoharis and Barber’s groups, supporters of the assembly and march include the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Common Cause, Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Good Trouble, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Make It Plain, National Council of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, Service Employees International Union, and Union of Southern Service Workers.

“Workers’ rights, civil rights, and human rights are on the ballot this election. American voters will decide: Do we want to stay the course and keep on this path toward a more compassionate government or revert back to this morally bankrupt nation?” said Fred Redmond, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. “The American labor movement is committed to registering and mobilizing union members and union families around the mass mobilization on June 29. We’re going to elect lawmakers who will advocate for workers and poor people to elect leaders who will put people over profits, protect our democracy, and advance worker and civil and human rights.”

In addition to choosing between Democratic President Joe Biden and former Republican President Donald Trump, U.S. voters in November will decide which party controls each house of Congress. There will also be various consequential local and state elections, including ballot measures to protect key rights such as access to abortion care.

“This is a crisis moment for our democracy,” stressed Rosalyn Pelles, a senior advisor to the Poor People’s Campaign. “In order for our nation not to continue down the path of autocracy, we need for our political leaders to become moral leaders and take seriously the needs and priorities of the millions of people struggling simply to survive.”

“Congress must lead, by bringing forward comprehensive legislation to restore the child tax credit and raise the minimum wage,” Pelles argued. “The media must do more, by covering the experiences of people struggling to get by, not just the words and whims of the wealthy and powerful. And the White House must treat poverty like the crisis it is, if this administration is serious about saving our democracy. We all must act, and that is what June 29th is all about.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Protected with IP Blacklist CloudIP Blacklist Cloud