Speakers include impacted people from NC, AZ, WV, MS, DC, TX, WI, CA, GA

Contact: Martha Waggoner, mwaggoner@breachrepairers.org 

Poor and low-income people and faith leaders from the Poor People’s Campaign will hold a Watch Night service on Friday to welcome the new year with faith, hope and resolve, just as formerly enslaved people did over 150 years ago as they waited for the Emancipation Proclamation to take effect. 

The Watch Night service is a prelude to the Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington to be held June 18, 2022. That’s when faith and moral leaders will join with poor and low-income people to demand that this country lift from the bottom and help the 140 million people who live in poverty or are one emergency away from being poor. 

The service, which begins at 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 31, will be live streamed here from Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, is the senior pastor. 

Speakers include impacted people from North Carolina, Arizona, West Virginia, Mississippi, Washington, D.C., Texas, Wisconsin, California, and Georgia, along with the co-chairs of the PPC:NCMR, Bishop Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, Sheila Katz, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, and Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson, executive director of the 2022 Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington. 

“A Watch Night service is about watching the old year out and welcoming the new year

by vowing to keep alive our commitment to love, truth and justice,” Bishop Barber said. “At the first national Poor People’s Campaign Watch Night service in 2018, we declared that bowing down to Trumpism was not an option. This year we are saying we must organize and mobilize a Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington. There must be a moral reset in this nation because we cannot allow the refusal of one or two political leaders to prevent this country from providing the basics needed to lift poor and low-wealth people and protect voting rights. We can’t quit or give in. We must do more.”

Watch night dates to at least 1862, when Black people waited to hear that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. President Lincoln signed the proclamation in September, but his decree declaring that enslaved people in the Confederate state were free took effect on Dec. 31. The date became known as watch night, which churches have marked ever since. 

“At Watch Night in 1862, Frederick Douglass reminded those who would be free that the price of freedom is ‘eternal vigilance,’ Rev. Theoharis said. “This remains true especially for the 140 million poor and low-income Americans today. And so we commit to organizing and mobilizing to abolish racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy. We cannot rest until freedom for everybody comes.”

Speakers also include Rev. Nancy Petty, senior pastor, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.; Roz Pelles, vice president, Repairers of the Breach; Kait Ziegler,national co-director of organizing, Repairers of the BreachKeShaun Pearson, project director, the 2022 Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington; Rev. Rob Stephens, chief of staff, Repairers of the Breach; LaMonique Hamilton, deputy communications director, Repairers of the Breach; Rev. Dr. Della Owens, national director of safety and security, Repairers of the Breach, and pastor of Saint James Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Wilson, N.C.; and Rev. Kazimir Brown, national director of religious affairs, Repairers of the Breach. 

Bishop Barber also is president of Repairers of the Breach, and Rev. Dr. Theoharis is director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice. The organizations are co-sponsors of the PPC:NCMR.