Boston Clergy Reignite MLK’s Poor People’s Campaign

As Americans all over the country eagerly await a real change, an enthusiastic crowd of people was heard chanting “No more! Poverty has to go!” outside Trinity Church on Thursday.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who is popularly known for his effective Moral Mondays movement, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, have picked up the baton the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. laid down by recommencing his Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Barber and Theoharis are determined to continue his fight against poverty, militarism, racism and wealth inequality.

“We’re coming together against all kinds of divides. We recognize that systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and the narrative must be changed and challenged,” said Barber.

PPC was originally created by King, the leader of the Southern Christian Leader Conference, in 1967. But the campaign collapsed due to King’s assassination. Now, after almost 50 years, the world is coming together again for King’s cause.

Dakota Butterfield, from the Central Vermont Solidarity Singers, said, “We’re often so separated, but here’s someone calling us all together, and I’m floored by the number of supporting and endorsing groups who have signed on to this.”

According to Theoharis, 65 million workers currently make less than $15 per hour, and 400 families make $97,000 per hour. “The poor are living in tragic conditions because of the terrible economic injustices that keep them locked in. We must change that,” she said.

Moreover, City Councilor Tito Jackson made a political statement by joining the citizens of Boston in this campaign. “We are the solution to these problems,” he said, “and it’s time for us to stand up as our ancestors stood up for us. We need to fight this good fight, so we can leave it for our children better than we found it.”  

Dalida Rocha, from the Youth Justice Coalition, said, “We live in a political era, and racial injustice is very much at the forefront, and inequality continues to be an issue. The launch of the Poor People’s Campaign is about empowerment. It’s about change, and hope, and everything we’ve been wishing for for a very long time.”

David Przepioski, who referred to himself as a homeless man, also attended the event in search of inspiration and solidarity. “Events like these are what create momentum. I am hopeful that things will get better from here on out,” said Przepioski.

 

Gillian Mason, co-interim director of Massachusetts Jobs with Justice, believes that Barber will be able to galvanize people with this movement. “There’s an expression that we hang together or we hang one at a time. We need to stand together in Rev. Barber’s efforts. He will bring great changes to this nation,” she said.

 

The campaign has already taken place in North Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Topeka, Kansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Birmingham, Alabama; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Birmingham, New York; and now Boston, Massachusetts. It’s set to continue in El Paso, Texas (Oct. 22); Seattle, Washington (Nov. 6); Jackson, Mississippi (Nov. 13); and D.C. (Dec. 4).

 

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