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MN Poor People's Campaign launches six-week push for non-violent direct action
by Tru Newman

The Minnesota Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, will kick off a six-week season of nonviolent direct action Monday at the State Capitol in St. Paul, demanding a massive overhaul of the nation’s voting rights laws, new public investments to lift up the 140 million Americans living in or near poverty, immediate attention to ecological devastation, and measures to curb militarism and the war economy.

The rally in Minnesota is one of over 30 actions across the country Monday by poor and disenfranchised people, clergy and advocates, who will engage in 40 days of nonviolent direct action and voter mobilization, among other activities, as a movement aimed at transforming the nation’s political, economic and moral structures takes off—building on the work of the original Poor People’s Campaign 50 years ago.

“We have come to say clearly that a politics that ignores the poor has gone on far too long, and we will not be silent anymore,” said DeWayne Davis, one of three co-chairs of the Minnesota campaign and senior pastor at All God’s Children Metropolitan Community Church in Minneapolis.

Silence toward Injustice is a Failing

“Silence in the face of injustice is a failure of both responsibility and imagination. A moral revival of the heart of our democracy requires that we break that silence and change course for the common good, especially for the most vulnerable. The Poor People’s Campaign gives us a chance demand a new moral discourse in the nation.”

Protests and other activities during this first week will focus on child poverty, women in poverty and people with disabilities. Subsequent weeks will focus on systemic racism, veterans and the war economy, ecological devastation, inequality, and our nation’s distorted moral narrative.

At the conclusion of the 40 days, on June 23, poor people, clergy and advocates from Minnesota and coast to coast will join together for a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They’ll then return to their states to continue building the campaign, which is expected to be a multi-year effort.

WHO: Poor and marginalized people, moral leaders and advocates from Minnesota.

WHAT: Protest at state capitol in St. Paul, demanding sweeping overhaul of nation’s voting rights laws, and policies to address poverty, ecological devastation, and the war economy

WHERE: Leif Erikson Park, on southwest corner of University Avenue and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, west of the State Capitol Building and next to the State Office Building.

WHEN: Monday, May 14 at 5 PM

BACKGROUND: The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization founded by the Rev. Barber; the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary; and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups across the country.

The campaign is building a broad and deep national moral movement – rooted in the leadership of poor people and reflecting the great moral teachings – to unite our country from the bottom up. Coalitions have formed in 39 states and Washington, D.C. to challenge extremism locally and at the federal level and to demand a moral agenda for the common good.

Over the past two years, leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival have carried out a listening tour in dozens of states across this nation, meeting with tens of thousands of people from El Paso, Texas to Marks, Mississippi to South Charleston, West Virginia. Led by the Revs. Barber and Theoharis, the campaign has gathered testimonies from hundreds of poor people and listened to their demands for a better society.

A Poor People’s Campaign Moral Agenda, announced last month, was drawn from this listening tour, while an audit of America conducted with allied organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies and the Urban Institute, showed that, in many ways, the nation's working class are worse off than they were in 1968.

The Moral Agenda, which will guide the 40 days of actions, calls for major changes to address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative, including repeal of the 2017 federal tax law, implementation of federal and state living wage laws, universal single-payer health care, and clean water for all.

Earlier this year, poor people, clergy and advocates traveled to statehouses all over the country and the U.S. Capitol to serve notice on lawmakers that their failure to address the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and America’s distorted national morality would be met this spring with six weeks of nonviolent moral fusion direct action.

The Campaign draws on the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, reigniting the effort led by civil rights organizations, labor union and tenant unions, farm workers, Native American elders and grassroots organizers to foster a moral revolution of values. Despite real political wins in 1968 and beyond, the original Poor People’s Campaign was tragically cut short, both by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and by the subversion of the coalition that sustained it. Still, the original vision and many of its followers did not go away.

Photo courtesy: Indiana Recorder (c)



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