On October 23–24, 2020, the Kairos Center presented Moral Policy in a Time of Crisis, an online conference on the urgent struggles and policy solutions of the poor and dispossessed.
We are living through a kairos moment, a time defined by both extraordinary danger and possibility. All around us the old ways of the world are crumbling and millions more are joining the ranks of the unemployed, uninsured, unhoused, unfed, and unwell. To dig ourselves out of the wreckage of the present, we desperately need a new moral vision, a blueprint for society that values and defends all life. This is what the Poor People’s Jubilee Platform offers.
The Jubilee Platform is not a proposal to tinker around the edges. Rather, it is a plan to reconstruct society around the needs and hopes of the poor, from economic and racial justice to an end to militarism and ecological devastation. “Jubilee” is a reference to the ancient moral commitment to cancel debts, release slaves, pay fair wages, provide for the poor and hungry, and allow the land to recover from overuse and abuse. Jubilee was not merely a set of ideas, but a comprehensive economic program that centered those who were most impacted by the injustice of the day.
The conference began with a keynote by Kairos Center Director Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, President of Repairers of the Breach. We also heard from organizers, economists, policy experts, theologians, historians, musicians, and other leaders on how we arrived at this moment of crisis and what we can do to chart a new way forward. Learn more about the conference by viewing the agenda below and to find recaps and summaries of each panel.
(All times are in Eastern Time.)
DAY 1: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23
2-3pm: Keynote — Jubilee and Reconstruction as Moral Policy
Reaching back into the long history of Jubilee and Reconstruction to understand the possibilities of today, with:
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis (Kairos) and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (Repairers of the Breach), co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, moderated by Shailly Gupta Barnes (Kairos)
3.30-5pm: The Right to Welfare and an Adequate Standard of Living
Looking at the history of poor people’s organizing and the policy frameworks that have both influenced and been shaped by their struggles, with:
Anthony Prince (National Union of the Homeless), Kenia Alcocer (Union de Vecinos), Kristin Colangelo (National Union of the Homeless), Maureen Taylor (Michigan Welfare Rights Organization), Salaam Bhatti (Virginia Poverty Law Center), and Shawn Fremstad (Center for Economic and Policy Research), moderated by Dawn Plummer (Pittsburgh Food Policy Council)
5-6 pm: BREAK
6-7.30pm: The Right to Work with Dignity
How our current economy is leaving workers behind and why we must think about work, labor, and jobs in a new way, with:
Ben Wilkins (Fight for 15 and Raise Up NC!), Beth Kontos (AFT Massachusetts), Chris Caruso (Kairos), Darrick Hamilton (The New School), Shana Bartley (National Women’s Law Center), Sheree Aleen (Fight for 15), Janie Grice (United for Respect), and Pauline Pisano (NYS Poor People’s Campaign), moderated by Shailly Gupta Barnes (Kairos)
DAY 2: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24
9.30-11am: Facing the Long History of Systemic Racism
Contending with the injustices of systemic racism from the first chapter of U.S. history to the present, with:
Leonardo Vilchis (Union de Vecinos), Jeanne Theoharis (Brooklyn College), Roz Pelles (Repairers of the Breach), Wendsler Nosie Sr. (Apache Stronghold), and Adam Barnes (Kairos), moderated by Ciara Taylor (University of the Poor)
12-1.30pm: The Right to Health and a Healthy Environment
Building power to change a death-dealing system into one that protects the sources of life, with:
Brigitte Kahl (Union Theological Seminary), Mikaela Curry (Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign), Nijmie Dzurinko (Put People First! PA), Sharrelle Barber (Drexel University), Sharon Lavigne (Rise St. James), and Basav Sen (Institute for Policy Studies), moderated by Noam Sandweiss-Back (Kairos)
2.30-4pm: Providing for the Common Defense
Redefining the ideas of national security and common defense, with:
Lindsay Koshgarian (National Priorities Project), Erica Williams (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities), Kyle Bibby (Common Defense), Savina Martin (Freedom Church of the Poor), Michael Gramling (Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign), Rev. Emily McNeill (NYS Poor People’s Campaign), and Rev. Dana Kelley (Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign), moderated by Charon Hribar (Kairos)
4.30-5.15pm: Closing — We Declare Jubilee!