Rev. William Barber to Announce The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People's Campaign

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Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis annouce a nation-wide audit of race, poverty and militarism on the fiftieth-anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's Seminal "Poor People's Campaign"

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Today, we recognize that in order to challenge the extremist policies that are being proposed at the highest levels of government, which hurt the most vulnerable, we need a Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign." Rev. Dr. William Barber

Repairers of the Breach, a non-partisan ecumenical organization advancing progressive policies at the state and local level, announced the creation of a task force headed by Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Shailly Gupta Barnes, and Dr. Tim Tyson to conduct “The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 Years After the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Militarism, Poverty and Our National Morality.” This audit will produce a clear framework for the twenty-first century re-launch of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign and will shine a light on the facts, figures and faces of those most impacted by systemic poverty, racism and militarism, over the past 50 years.

PLEASE JOIN US ON
Monday, April 3, 2017 at 9am at The National Press Club
(529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Bloomberg Room, Washington, D.C.)

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called for a “revolution of values” at the historic Riverside Church, inviting a divided country to stand together against the “triplets of evil”—militarism, racism, and economic injustice.

Fearing that his vision was too radical, preachers, editorial boards, and even fellow civil rights leaders condemned King. Among the dispossessed and disenfranchised, however, King’s words—that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation to ever exist—resonated profoundly. Across America, people of every race, ethnicity and faith embraced a moral audit to champion both human rights and economic rights. The ensuing Poor People’s Campaign built public awareness around the societal forces adversely impacting the nation’s poor and demanded a Marshall Plan for America’s most vulnerable citizens, but its goals were cut short.

On this 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic call, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, leader of Moral Mondays and President of Repairers of the Breach, will return to Riverside Church to announce plans to complete the Poor People’s Campaign.

“This is not a commemoration,” said Rev. Barber. “Dr. King and the Poor People's Campaign of 1967/68 began an effort to build a broad, fusion coalition that would audit America, demand an accounting of promissory notes that had been returned marked ‘insufficient funds.’ ”

Rev. Barber will be joined by Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Pastor Emeritus of the historic Riverside Church and President of the Healing of the Nations Foundation; Shailly Gupta Barnes, Coordinator of the National Truth Commission on the Right to Not Be Poor for the Kairos Center at Union Theological Seminary; and Duke University professor, Dr. Tim Tyson. Together, this distinguished team will chair a wider committee of economists, historians, political scientists, community leaders, theologians, and other experts to provide a comprehensive assessment of the impact of anti-poverty programs in America over the last 50 years, and identify what remains to be done.

The Souls of Poor Folk: Auditing America 50 years after the Poor People’s Campaign Challenged Racism, Militarism, Poverty and Our National Morality will guide the agenda and action plan for the New Poor People’s/Poor Children’s Campaign. Details of the audit committee will be given at the press conference on Monday.

On Tuesday, April 4th, as this research team begins outlining a policy agenda, Rev. Barber will lead a historic march in Memphis, TN with the Fight for $15 and the Movement for Black Lives, on the forty-ninth anniversary of the sanitation workers march that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was helping to lead when he was assassinated. Other grassroots organizations engaged in building a new Poor People’s Campaign will be holding actions against climate change, for immigration rights, for housing and education, on April 4th in the spirit of Dr. King’s moral revolution of values.

“In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others knew the nation needed a Poor People’s Campaign to challenge extremism,” said the Rev. Dr. William Barber. “Today, we recognize that in order to challenge the extremist policies that are being proposed at the highest levels of government, which hurt the most vulnerable, we need a Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign. We must advance a moral movement in America, that can move beyond the limited language of left versus right politics.”

About “Moral Mondays”
Since the summer of 2013, “Moral Mondays” in North Carolina have mobilized an indigenously-led, grassroots coalition of people around refusing the language of left vs. right to name these issues as moral concerns. Over the past two years, Rev. Barber, Rev. Forbes, Rev. Theoharis along with Traci Blackmon, Sister Simone Campbell and the Moral Revival have rallied and trained state-based coalitions in 32 states across the nation to work together across issues to pursue a Moral Agenda in state and federal policy and have gathered the signatures of more than 10,000 faith and community leaders calling for a moral agenda. They have invited President Donald Trump to meet with them and embrace a moral agenda that prioritizes health care, housing, living wage jobs, and voting rights in his first 100 days.

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Contact:
Ian Rees
ireesatuts.columbia.edu | 215.869.9064

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