On April 4, 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached on the giant triplets of evil — racism, poverty and militarism — at Riverside Church in New York City. This was the first time he spoke publicly about his opposition to the Vietnam War. He spoke as a preacher and, grounded in his faith and moral convictions, he connected the war in Vietnam to a war on the poor: a rich man’s war that brought poor black and white men together to kill poor people in another country, while their own country would keep them divided and fighting against each other. This “cruel manipulation of the poor” was driven by profit margins, maintained by racism, and would require a “revolution of values” that could fundamentally reorder the political and economic priorities that made the United States the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. 

More than 50 years later, these lessons remain unheeded. Military spending is higher than ever, while there are 140 million poor and low-income people in the richest country in the world. As the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing, these distorted national priorities and the disinvestments in programs of social uplift will have brutal effects on the poor, who lack health care, housing, access to water and sanitation, living wages, worker protections or any adequate system of social welfare.

As a convener of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, the Kairos Center recognizes that war is an enemy of the poor and any campaign to end poverty must necessarily be committed to ending racism, ending ecological devastation, ending war and militarism and the false narratives that hold up these injustices.

In December 2019, with the support of the Colombe Foundation, the Kairos Center brought over 60 people from nearly two dozen states to a strategic dialogue on ending militarism and the war on the poor. This compilation of resources on militarism is intended to continue that process and broaden the conversation we began in December. Fight poverty, not the poor! 


The War Against the Poor Knows No Borders
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis

“Cruel Manipulation of the Poor”: How the Ruling Class Rules
John Wessel-McCoy

We Don’t Need to Raise Taxes to Have ‘Medicare for All’
Lindsay Koshgarian

To Fight This Pandemic We Need to Take Over the Military’s Resources
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Phyllis Bennis

Excessive Pentagon Spending is a Source of Income Inequality and Poverty
Jonathan King, Maryellen Kurkelos and Savina Martin

Policy and Advocacy Resources

Defund Militarism Fact Sheets
National Priorities Project

Policy Webinar #5: Militarism and the War Economy
Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Defund Militarism: How Violence Bankrupts Our Communities
Lindsay Koshgarian

Letters to the Editor Template for April 4
Jim Cason

Vietnam War Resources

Beyond Vietnam Study Guide
Jason Hurd, Jose Vasquez, and TJ Thompson

Fifty Years Since “Beyond Vietnam”
Colleen Wessel-McCoy

Letter to the Draft Board
General Gordon Baker Jr.

Testimonies & Reflections

Shifting the Narrative
Kairos Center Convening on Militarism

The Costs of War
Julio Torres

The Fight for Life in Death Alley
Sharon Lavigne

Report from the Border
Fernando Garcia

The Impact of Militarism on Indigenous People
Trini Rodriguez

A Veteran’s Reflections Upon the Invasion of Iraq in a Modern Pandemic
T.J. Thompson

Sermons & Religious Resources

The Necessity of Moral Resistance in the Face of Militarism (Video)
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Counting the Real Costs: The Price We Pay to Feed the War Economy
Rev. Amiri Hooker

Pentecost Not Pentagon: It’s Time We Stop Feeding the Military Mentality
Rev. Amiri Hooker

A Revolution of Values
Poor People’s Campaign Bible Study #3

Cultural Resources

Power to the People (Poem)
Huggy Bear

Think It’s a Game (Poem)
Huggy Bear

Soldier’s Heart (Album)
Jacob George

Remembering Jacob George
Charon Hribar

Stop the War on the Poor
Charon Hribar

Rebel for All the Children in the World Tonight
Peace Poets / Songs in the Key of Resistance

Turn the Tide
Peace Poets / Songs in the Key of Resistance

Pauline Pisano

Pauline Pisano

Change the Priorities
Western Regional Advocacy Project

Poor People’s Campaign Portfolio
Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative

  1. Eric Garcia, Four Evils
  2. Eli Wright, Poverty Draft
  3. Nicolas Lampert, A Moral Revolution of Values
  4. Roger Peet, Unity of the Poor and Dispossessed
  5. Yvette M. Pino, Abandonment in the Midst of Plenty
  6. Kevin Caplicki, True Compassion

Justseeds Portfolio Militarism Study Guide

America Will Be: Uniting a Movement (Video)
Dara Kell