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As news reports uncover more information about the coal dealings of Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign will hold a 23-mile march followed by a rally to pressure the US senator to change his ways and support actions that save both his own constituents and democracy.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will support the West Virginia PPC with the march from Harpers Ferry to Martinsburg, which begins with a rally at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, April 5, outside Storer College. The co-chairs of the PPC:NCMR, Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, will speak at the rally, as will state leaders and impacted people.
“Manchin’s unyielding attacks on the poor such as blocking living wages and refusing to support a bill that extends the tax credit that helps children or expand health care and ultimately carrying the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce rather than having compassion for the people of his state and the country – these are why West Virginia is our country’s Selma,” Bishop Barber said. “This is why we accepted the invitation from the West Virginia PPC to join this march and engage in direct action with poor and low-wealth people in the state where my grandfather was born. And it’s why we must hold the Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls on June 18th.”
The various programs can be viewed here.
“Sen. Manchin has refused to help his own constituents, especially 710,000 poor and low-income West Virginians, by blocking the passage of even a watered-down Build Back Better. He has refused to save our democracy by blocking bills to restore and expand voting rights protections such as the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Rev. Dr. Theoharis said. “More importantly, his refusal to end the racist filibuster or enact a fair taxation system blocks policies that protect the people and the planet. Time and time again, Sen. Manchin chooses the greed of the chamber of commerce and billionaires over the needs of the people. I am proud to march with moms who have lost the Child Tax Credit, low-wage workers, families impacted by coal waste Sen. Manchin profits from, and others who are demanding voting rights, living wages, clean air and water, and the right to thrive not barely survive.”
Figures compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies last year showed that the $3.5 trillion (over 10 years) version of BBB would have: created 17,290 new jobs in West Virginia; benefited 346,000 children by extending the expanded child tax credit; and allowed an additional 88,050 people to take paid leave each year.
The WVPPC, the PPC:NCMR and partner organizations are demanding that Manchin move from policy cruelty to compassion and from policy meanness to mercy to help not just the 40% of West Virginians who are poor or low-income – 710,000 people – but the 140 million nationally who are since his votes hurt not just his constituents but people across the country.
Both Storer College and the town of Harpers Ferry are deeply connected to the civil rights movement. Storer was a historically Black college that opened in 1867 and served both Black and white students at times. It hosted the first American meeting of the Niagara Movement, the predecessor to the NAACP, in 1906.
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass described Harpers Ferry as the town where the end of American slavery began because John Brown tried to initiate a slave revolt there in 1859.
On Wednesday, marchers will rally at 4:30 p.m. ET against the Rockwool insulation plant in Ranson at a bike path across from the plant. Some residents opposed the plant because they fear damage to the environment.
Below is the schedule for the rest of the week. All programs begin at 10 a.m. ET unless otherwise stated:
_ April 7: Marchers will go by North Jefferson Elementary School and through Fox Glen.
_ April 8: March to Martinsburg.
_ April 9: Rally at Sen. Manchin’s office in Martinsburg and then support West Virginia Rising in its blockade at Manchin’s coal plant in Grant Town that afternoon.
_ April 10: Bishop Barber and Rev. Dr. Theoharis preach a Palm Sunday service across the street from Manchin’s dirty coal plant in Grant Town.
Last week, the New York Times published an article titled “How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions. “
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business,” the article said. “Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action.”