Before he died, Martin Luther King, Jr. launched a Poor People’s Campaign aimed at bringing the issue of poverty to the fore. He declared: “[When] profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people … we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values” (The Nation, 12/4/2017).
Nearly 50 years later, serious organizing is underway to revive this campaign. Led by Rev. Liz Theoharis and Rev. William J. Barber II – one of the principal leaders of North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” movement – they plan to conduct 40 actions around the country in 40 days starting in May 2018.
Based on a long history of organizing with the NAACP and within the faith community, this project has real potential to mobilize tens of thousands of people against the attacks of the Trump administration and the Republican controlled congress.
The Poor People’s Campaign comes at a time when the slightest spark can set off huge protest as we saw earlier in 2017 with the airport occupations that beat back Trump’s initial Muslim ban. However, the Democratic Party establishment will seek to undermine this mobilization to point people in the direction of the 2018 midterms.
In 1968, the Poor People’s Campaign set out demanding huge investment in a war on poverty including legally mandated full employment and building half a million affordable housing units per year “until slums were eliminated” (PoorPeoplesCampaign.org). We hope that similarly radical demands will be taken up in 2018 and we look forward to participating to the fullest in this campaign.