More than 450 people met in Quincy for the Mass. Meeting of the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign on Friday, April 6.
Savina Martin, a long time activist who is one of three co-chairs of the Massachusetts Poor People’s Campaign, opened up the meeting, calling on people to raise their voices “to say enough is enough and we’re demanding policy change.”
Martin has been involved in ending poverty as part of the National Union of the Homeless organization for 30 years, and says that the campaign is a movement “not a moment.”
The campaign is called A National Call for Moral Revival, and focuses on four core issues: poverty, systemic racism, economic war, and ecological devastation. The campaign was spearheaded by the Repairers of the Breach and the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice. Tens of thousands of people across the country are expected to participate in the Nonviolent Moral Fusion Direct Action, 40 days of non-violent protest beginning on Mother’s Day.
Activists will organize protests in 41 states, including Massachusetts, then on June 23, they will head to Washington D.C. to continue protesting as a united force.
At the Quincy meeting, civil rights icons, faith leaders, and community leaders were featured speakers at the three hour long meeting. There were dance performances, live music, and sing alongs to protest songs. The audience, made up of activists, community members, and faith leaders were listening, singing, and applauding, filling the big room with raucous sounds of support.
Table stations focused on core issues and operational committees were placed along the room with papers and pens, ready for people to sign up and join the campaign.
“We really want your voices in this,” said Kathy Hoffman, a long time community and social justice activist since 1970, who protested for women’s issues and recently protested against the pipeline in West Roxbury. As part of the campaign, she helps people understand how things may unfold and how to stay grounded as they protest by offering trainings that will take place on Saturdays throughout the spring.
“The state really has all the apparatus of force and violence at their fingertips. And so in our movement if any violence rocks it simply ends up being used as a pretext for further clamping down on our people. And because this poor people’s movement is made up of poor people, and people of color, and people who are veterans, and people who are homeless people, who are really already can be at the edges. We do not want any extra pretext for those people being further brutalized.” Hoffman said. “We want to be able to handle ourselves with dignity, so that our message comes across clear and we don’t get sidelined by someone else’s agenda.”
Among those at the meeting was Keith Harvey, a long time activist who is a regional director at the American Friend’s Service Committee.
“I think this campaign is important because it kind of has the opportunity to break down the racial stuff and you start really looking at the economic base,” said Harvey said.