In December, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival held a press conference and other events in Washington, D.C., to help launch a campaign of direct action, civil disobedience, voter education and mass mobilization aimed at challenging the evils of “poverty, systemic racism, militarism, environmental devastation, and our distorted national morality.” The organizers hope to mount large protests on 40 consecutive days in 2018, in at least 25 state capitals and other locations.
At the Capitol building, the campaign attempted to deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemning the tax bill that was before Congress in December. The letter called the bill a “gross act of violence … against our nation’s most vulnerable to serve its richest and most powerful.”
At the press conference, speakers testified as to their personal experiences with homelessness, poverty, and having loved ones die for lack of health care. The Rev. Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the campaign with The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, said that, “We are a nation that guarantees corporations welfare, but we do not guarantee the basic needs of the poor. We have 400 families in America who make an average of $97,000 an hour, while we arrest people who simply want $15 an hour and a union.” He also noted that “53 cents of every discretionary dollar paid in federal taxes goes directly to the military, to the war economy … They will say we don’t have the money [to eliminate poverty], but we found $4 trillion to wage unnecessary war. We have the money; we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails our democracy.”
Rev. Terri Hord Owens asked the audience to “imagine what kind of society we could have if we submitted our resources, the production of those resources, the stewardship of those resources, and the distribution of those resources to the almighty hand of God, to the love of neighbor. We would indeed have a different society …. We have to dismantle the systems that oppress us all and hold our country hostage.”