Exactly one year before his assassination, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the nation from Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967 about the interlocking injustices of racism, poverty and militarism. The Poor People’s Campaign emerged as a strategy to confront these ills, led by the poor and dispossessed who “have little to lose” coming “to take action together.” Dr. King asserted, “…the whole structure of American life must be changed.”
Today, the structure of American life is indeed changing as we respond to the double pandemic of poverty and COVID-19. But as Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis wrote in this week’s TIME Magazine, “Epidemics emerge along the fissures of our society, reflecting not only the biology of the infectious agent, but patterns of marginalization, exclusion and discrimination.“
And those fissures are many. There are record numbers joining the ranks of the unemployed; hospitals and morgues are overflowing while the streets are empty; and many of the workers who have been deemed essential and mandated to work are those being paid the lowest wages, with the least workers’ protections.
We see a health care system on the brink after decades of budget cuts, privatization, and a focus on profits over patients and public health. We see, in stark reality, the truth that 140 million people in America are either already poor or one health care crisis or missed paycheck away from poverty, nearly half of the U.S. population.
In times such as these, we cannot be silent anymore! We must take action together and become a “new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.” Join the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival on April 4, 2020, for A Day of Prophetic Mourning and Action:
- Click here to learn more about who and what was left out of the COVID-19 stimulus bill.
- Sign our petition to demand a moral stimulus package that addresses the roots of the double pandemic of poverty and COVID-19.
- Take part in today’s Digital Day of Action by sharing the graphics and posts in this toolkit.
- Faith leaders and congregations, use this Poverty Amidst Pandemic Litany as we approach the religious celebrations of Easter, Passover and Ramadan this week and in the coming weeks to declare that Everybody Has a Right to Live, and We Will Not Be Silent Anymore!