Reporters can register here for the 10A ET news conference on Friday
Contact: Faith Morris | [email protected] | 312-813-6965
Martha Waggoner | [email protected]
Why? To challenge and push to change the immoral, scandalous and continuous refusal to act and address the systemic devastation that plagues140 million poor and low-wage Americans (43% of adults and 52% of children) by the entire Republican caucus and some Democrats – all backed by a profit-driven ideology for the few.
Joined virtually by poor people, low-wage workers, religious leaders, 200 partner organizations, coordinating committees from 45 states, economists and voting rights advocates, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will announce plans for a Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls—June 18, 2022.
There must be a Third Reconstruction in America. We must, in the nonviolent moral tradition, put a face on the pain that obstructionism is causing and shift the moral narrative, build power and place before the nation and agenda and way forward that refuses to accept the lies of scarcity and the constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, politically insensitive and economically insane politics we are witnessing today.
When COVID hit, things got worse for those suffering from inequality in America. Poor and low-wage workers were the first forced to go to work, the first to get sick, and the first to die. Billionaires made over $2 trillion in the first 20 months of COVID, while 8 million more fell into poverty. Trillions of dollars were given to profit-driven corporations, some without even going through Congress.
Before COVID exposed the fissures of poverty and racism, a grotesque 250,000 people a year (700 a day) died from poverty – not because of scarcity of resources or progressive ideas, but a scarcity of moral consciousness Before COVID, millions were unnecessarily without health care and without a living minimum wage in the wealthiest nation in history of world.
Before COVID, voting rights had been under assault since the 2013 Shelby County vs Holder decision; before COVID, millions of people were uninsured or underinsured; before COVID, we were spending over 53 cents of every discretionary dollar on the war economy. The politics of love and justice was already demanding that we as a nation change.
Then COVID hit and glaringly exposed the fissures of systemic racism and poverty even more. Yet, because of the outright obstructionism of McConnell’s extremist Republicans in the Senate and the gradualism of so-called moderates like Senators Manchin and Sinema, Congress has been unable to pass even watered-down responsive step ($1.9 trillion over 10 years) to invest in the uplift of the 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this nation. These same forces refuse to pass the For the People Act or Voting Rights Advancement Act, hiding behind the non-constitutional and historically regressive racist filibuster.
This is why poor and low-wealth people (who represent 30% of the electorate and 45% in battleground states) have decided to intensify and embolden their outcry, outreach, and organizing to shift the moral narrative in this nation. This moment demands a generationally transformative action. Organizers insist that we cannot go back to the normal before COVID. We must seize this opportunity to create a country that works for all of us.
In 2020, the PPC:NCMR was able to have a mass assembly online during COVID. More than 2.7 million people showed up online. Campaign leaders have now declared that “what was done online must happen in the streets.” We must arrest the attention of a nation held hostage by lies about scarcity, corporate greed and voter suppression.
Advocates, representing many others, speaking at the press conference will include representatives of SEIU, Fight for $15, Unite Here, Black Voters Matter, and MoveOn. Faith leaders include Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Jim Winkler, President, National Council of Churches; Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick George, President, Unitarian Universalist Association; and Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Representatives who introduced the Third Reconstruction: Ending Poverty and Low Wealth from the Bottom Up have answered the call for a mass movement, along with several others. The Third Reconstruction is a House resolution with over 30 co-signers.
Leading economist Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, with a cohort of economists, will join us to share economic analysis in support of the PPC:NCMR. In March, a joint commissioned study will be released to present findings pertaining to the inequitable economic and political treatment of the poor that continues to threaten the future of our democracy.
“The Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls is not just a day of action. This is a declaration of an ongoing, committed, nonviolent, truth-telling, multi-racial, interfaith moral movement. We will 1) Shift the moral narrative, 2) Build and Mobilize political voting power, and 3) Make real policies to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up and protect and expand voting rights and the fundamental infrastructure of our democracy,” said Bishop William J. Barber II, D.Min. and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, National Co-Chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign.
America must address simultaneously systemic racism, systemic poverty, denial of healthcare, ecological devastation, the war economy and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism and white supremacy with a movement agenda that brings together blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans – people from every race, creed, color, region, sexuality, united by a moral fusion agenda and long-term nonviolent moral activism and analysis informed by our deepest constitutional and religious values.
Bishop Barber is president of Repairers of the Breach, and Rev. Dr. Theoharis is director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice. Repairers of the Breach and the Kairos Center are the co-sponsors and anchor organizations of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.