Poor People's Campaign

Hundreds of Poor People, Faith Leaders from 30+ States to Descend on Capitol Hill for Three-Day Poor People’s Campaign Congress, Demand Action to Address Death by Poverty

Poor, impacted people, faith leaders to visit their members of Congress, on both sides of aisle, demand end to policy murder 

Participants to lead funeral procession to Capitol, honor loved ones lost to poverty

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of Poor People’s Campaign leaders from over 30 states will join together on Capitol Hill June 19-21 to shift the nation’s attention to the reality of poverty in the country, highlight poverty as an American death sentence and demand action to end murder by public policy. –

The three-day Poor People’s Campaign Moral Poverty Action Congress will sound the alarm on the crisis of poverty, and bring together poor and low-wealth people and faith leaders from across the country to strategize and demand that addressing poverty be on the nation’s agenda heading into the 2024 elections. Participants will also demand the White House meet with poor and low-wealth workers, religious leaders, economists and lawyers with their moral movement to discuss how our nation’s leaders can address the crisis of death by poverty.

It comes as hundreds of thousands of Americans are being kicked off of Medicaid, child poverty is on the rise after the expanded child tax credit was allowed to expire, and as we near the 14th year since the impossibly low federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour was increased. And it follows a manufactured debt ceiling crisis that was resolved on the backs of poor people. 

WHO: Bishop William Barber, Rev. Liz Theoharis, Yale School of Public Health Assistant Professor Greg Gonsalves and UC-Riverside Professor David Brady, Economic Policy Institute Director of Race, Ethnicity and Economy Valerie Wilson, Hundreds of Poor People’s Campaign Leaders from 30+ States 

WHAT: Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Moral Action Poverty Congress

WHEN: Monday, June 19, 2023

WHERE: Washington DC Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, International Ballroom

“Today, poverty is the 4th leading cause of death nationwide. It is a death sentence for Americans. It is a moral travesty and a detriment to the soul of our nation that poverty kills more people than homicide yet the powers that be don’t want to address it,” said Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “There’s not a scarcity of resources, but a scarcity of political will. Until our nation’s leaders invest the great riches of this nation in ensuring equal justice for all, beginning with the poor and low-wealth of this nation, we cannot be silent.” 


The Congress will open Monday with a launch event featuring Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, leading a discussion with Yale School of Public Health Assistant Professor Greg Gonsalves and UC-Riverside Professor David Brady, the author of a recent report citing poverty as the fourth leading cause of death in America, among others. 

On Tuesday, local Poor People’s Campaign leaders, including impacted people,faith leaders, and advocates, will visit members of the House and Senate – on both sides of the aisle from the 30+ states they represent – to demand they use their power to address poverty, which kills more people every year than homicide, but gets significantly less of the attention from politicians. 

“Given the abundance that exists in this country and the fundamental dignity inherent to all humanity, every person in this nation has the right to demand dignified jobs and living wages, housing, education, health care and welfare,”  said the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. But the truth is that millions of Americans are denied those fundamental rights, and thousands are dying as a result.”

Following the visits, impacted people and faith leaders will hold a funeral procession leading up to the Capitol, where participants will speak out about how poverty is an American death sentence, as it is the fourth leading cause of death in the country. Others will discuss how the interlocking injustices have directly impacted their lives and their families.

On Wednesday, Reps. Barbara Lee and Pramila Jayapal will reintroduce a resolution calling for a Third Reconstruction, a large-scale federal effort to end poverty and dismantle racist policies and structures. The resolution, entitled the Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up, will outline concrete ways to address poverty and the interlocking systemic injustices in our country. 

“Poverty first grabbed me when I gave birth to a 4 pound, 3 ounce baby and became a single mother at 18. Poverty has never let me go. I managed to graduate high school, but West Virginia’s low wages have kept me and my family’s income below the federal poverty level,” said Kimberly Burks, whose son Quantez Burks died in the West Virginia Beckley Southern Regional Jail shortly after his arrival. “My sons became teen fathers trapped in the same downward spiral of poverty. Now [my son] Quantez has been beaten to death while handcuffed in jail, the ultimate cost of poverty. After all that I’m standing and demanding a life of dignity and respect, liveable wages and an end to poverty and lives lost to poverty.”

The three days will also be spent strategizing a new season of intensification around the moral fusion movement to end poverty across the nation. Participants will announce plans for future, coordinated mobilizations through the end of year, followed by a massive voter engagement operation heading into the 2024 election.

This year’s Congress builds off The Mass Poor People’s and Low Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls last June, in which thousands of poor and low-wealth people marched and rallied ahead of a massive voter mobilization drive for the midterm elections. 

“With pandemic aid expired, any gains I’ve made have been reversed. I’m back to having to choose between paying for health care and car repairs, or between putting food on the table and seeing a dentist. That’s why I’ve joined the Poor People’s Campaign — a movement led by people like me, impacted by policies that harm the poor in order to help the wealthy,” said Joyce Kendrick with the Ohio Poor People’s Campaign.