WASHINGTON —The Revs. William Barber II and Liz Theoharis, co-chairs of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, led a march of poor people, clergy and advocates on Capitol Hill Monday, demanding a massive overhaul of the nation's voting rights laws, new programs to lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty, immediate attention to ecological devastation and measures to curb militarism and the war economy.
The protest at the U.S. Capitol is one of three dozen nationwide Monday, kicking off a six-week season of nonviolent direct action aimed at transforming the nation's political, economic and moral structures.
Monday's actions set to reignite the Poor People's Campaign started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others 50 years ago to confront the triple threat of poverty, racism and militarism.
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, we are worse off than we 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.