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Poor People's Campaign Set an Agenda, Took Action, and Supplied Information
Jun 29 – Jul 12, 2023
poor people's campaign

The Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, held its three-day Moral Poverty Action Congress. We met “to place the nation on notice that we will not be silent anymore as poverty kills 800 people every single day in this country, more than homicide, more than respiratory disease, and more than opioid overdoses,” says it’s leaders including Bishop William J. Barber, II, National Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign, President & Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach.

Over three days, they strategized, mobilized and planned on how to shift the nation’s attention to the reality of poverty in the country, highlight poverty and low wages as an American death sentence, and force elected leaders to take action to end unnecessary and avoidable murder by public policy.

The organization provided these five highlights from their third Congress:

1. What It Means To Be America Is At Stake

The Congress opened June 19 with a launch event televised live in its entirety on C-SPAN hosted by the Yale Center for Public Policy and Public Theology, featuring Barber in conversation with Yale School of Public Health Assistant Professor Gregg Gonsalves; UC-Riverside Professor David Brady, the author of a recent report citing poverty as the fourth leading cause of death in America; Valerie Wilson from the Economic Policy Institute; and Valerie Eguavoen, the Center’s Associate Director.
“What does it say about the greatest country on earth, the land of the greatest opportunities, if we know what we need to do to address the problem, but only do it periodically for limited amounts of time,?” Wilson said.

2. Back in Survival Mode

Impacted people and faith leaders held a national speakout in front of the Supreme Court, where they raised the alarm about the death sentence of poverty in America and honored loved ones lost to poverty and the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, militarism, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.
“Thirty-nine percent of our population in Ohio lives in poverty,” Joyce Kendrick, of Middletown, Ohio told the crowd during the speakout. “Lawmakers let the SNAP expansion and other pandemic programs expire. I’m back in survival mode. I’m back to choosing between proper medical care and a proper meal.” (Port of Harlem Note:  The US Census put the official Ohio poverty rate at 13.4 percent).

3. A Third Reconstruction

Following the speakout, the advocates from more than 30 states walked to the U.S. Capitol where they joined Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Barbara Lee as they re-introduced a resolution to fully eradicate poverty throughout the United States.  The Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up resolution draws on the history of the First Reconstruction following the American Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the Civil Rights Movement.

4. Visits to Hundreds Of House

& Senate Offices, White House 
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, National Co-Chair of the Poor People's Campaign, Director of Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, opened the second day. Then, Attorney Shailly Barnes and the Rev. Kazimir Brown, co-policy directors of the Campaign, taught the entire Congress and all watching online the contents and research rationale for new state-by-state and national facts sheets produced in conjunction with the Institute for Policy Studies.

Hundreds of poor and low-wealth state leaders, advocates, and faith leaders from over 30 states then visited hundreds of Senate and House offices on both sides of the aisle to demand lawmakers use their power to address poverty.

And on Wednesday, some of our state leaders joined the Repairers of the Breach Moral Movement delegation of poor and low-wealth people, advocates, and faith leaders on a visit to the White House, where they met with senior administration officials to demand the Biden administration address the death by poverty that is devastating our nation.

5. Learn More About the Impacts

Of Poverty In Your Area
The Poor People’s Campaign, Kairos Center, Repairers of the Breach, and the Institute for Policy Studies also released new, updated fact sheets that examine the state of poverty and inequality at the national level in the United States, as well as provide extensive data for each of the 50 states and D.C.

Read a full breakdown of key findings from these fact sheets and the actions decision makers must take to alleviate poverty and reduce inequality. .
“Until this nation invests its great riches towards those living at the bottom of our society, those who have been discarded and left out, we cannot be silent. When you lift from the bottom everybody rises,” concluded Barber, Theohari, and Roz Pelles, Senior Strategic Advisor, Poor People's Campaign, Assistant Director for Student Engagement and Lecturer at the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at the Yale University Divinity School
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