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King’s Poor People’s Campaign renewed to fight Trump

Crusader staff report

Black religious leaders across the country are making plans to renew Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign that he envisioned before he was assassinated nearly 50 years ago in Memphis.

The news coincides with President Donald Trump’s approval of the controversial tax bill, which economists and faith leaders view as legislation that benefits corporations and the rich despite being promoted for the poor. On Saturday, Dec. 2, some 12 religious leaders led a demonstration at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, but the Senate passed the bill anyway.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is a campaign that will involve six weeks of protests at 25 state capitols, leading up to a mass demonstration at the U.S. Capitol on June 21. The event will bring together thousands of disenfranchised Americans and clergy members, who will be part of the event that is being described as one the largest waves of civil disobedience in the U.S.

King’s closest advisor, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, continued the Poor People’s campaign after King was gunned down at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The campaign demanded economic and human rights for poor Americans that included Blacks, Native Americans, Puerto Ricans, Asians and Mexican-Americans.

Some 3,000 tents were erected on the National Mall, where demonstrators camped out for six weeks following King’s assassination. Tensions among America’s poor had been rising after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty failed to meet the expectations of the disenfranchised population. The concerns then are eerily similar to those echoed by America today.

Leaders said the campaign will challenge “the enmeshed evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and America’s distorted national morality.”

“We must transform the moral narrative in this country. We went through the most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history in 2016 without a single serious discussion of poverty and systemic racism,” Poor People’s Campaign Co-Chair William Barber said in a statement. “Now we are witnessing an emboldened attack on the poor and an exacerbation of systemic racism that demands a response. This is not about saving any one party or policy agenda, but about saving the soul of America.”

“Even before the election of Donald Trump, the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the country’s distorted national morality were tearing apart the social fabric in America,” said the Reverend Liz Theoharis, a campaign co-chair. “But with extremists who stand against voting rights, living wages, health care and immigration reform gaining even more influence today in Washington and in statehouses across the country, the need for this campaign is more urgent than ever.”

The Poor People’s Campaign is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and several local and grassroots organizations housed across the country.

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