Poor People's Campaign

August 6, 2020

On the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival and Black civic organizations representing millions of people worldwide announced a covenant to resurrect the protections of the Voting Rights Act and condemn Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s seven-year campaign to obstruct equal access to the ballot. 

The campaign announced Thursday a historic partnership joining arm-in-arm with The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc.; the Black Women’s Agenda Inc.; The Links Incorporated; the International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute and the United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdictions-United States. The groups pledge to raise an unprecedented, united battle cry for immediate congressional action to protect the fundamental right to vote. 

The members of this historic alliance commit to bringing the full force of their collective power to fight to immediately resurrect the full protections of the Voting Rights Act and condemn McConnell’s deliberate obstruction,

In the following joint statement released Thursday, The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. — including the Council of Presidents of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. — announced its reason for joining in partnership:

“Our work is not done in the battle for equality, justice, and a voice in our democracy. Our work is as important today as at any time in our long history as organizations. Delay and lies by those in positions of power will no longer be tolerated. A new battle for the soul of our country is upon us. It is our duty and our right to demand action to restore the power of the Voting Rights Act and restore dignity to the ballot box in homage to not just the Honorable John Robert Lewis, but the generations of our people who have died demanding recognition of our political voice and our right to determine the policies that govern our lives.”

“For more than seven years, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has led a disgraceful obstruction campaign to prevent reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. While Majority Leader McConnell refused to act, across the nation, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County, gutting the Voting Rights Acts protections, our communities have fended off unrelenting assaults on our right to access the ballot, including discriminatory voter ID laws, racial gerrymandering, unlawful voter challenges, voter misinformation, and intimidation, mass polling place closures, voter purging, and voter suppression schemes dedicated to diminishing or denying the political power and vote of Black voters in this country. We declare, on this anniversary, that the seven-year season of voter suppression ends today.”

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said; 

Voter suppression is racism. When the vote is suppressed, it may target Black, brown,  and indigenous people, but it allows people to get elected who then use their political power to block living wages, healthcare and social uplift programs for all people regardless of their race. To fight poverty, we must fight the actions of Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mconnell to block restoring and expanding the Voting Rights Act.”

Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson, executive director of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, said: 

“Without the resurrection of the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, we are living in an impoverished democracy that does not truly represent its inhabitants and that cannot represent the dreams and promise of America. We will not stop our united battle until this Congress meets its obligation, morally and constitutionally, to renew federal protections for the people suffering under the weight of its shameful policies of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and militarism. The Poor People’s Campaign understands this truth that today we say to the world: these policies that are killing the people of America are enabled only by the coordinated reign of federal obstruction and waves of brazen voter suppression aimed at keeping the obstructionists in power. The greatest promise of America is on the other side of this fight for the right to vote, and together, we will be there to see it realized.”

Dr. Everett Ward, chair of the NPHC Council of Presidents and general president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., said: 

“In honor of the legacy of the freedom fighters who called this country to never again deny equal, unfettered access to the sacred right to vote, we will not be silent and we will not be silenced. On this sacred day, we stand in covenant together with a single-minded purpose worthy of the battle and the generations of clouds of witnesses who have marched this path before us. The protections of the Voting RIghts Act must be renewed now. Not a single day should go by without the country demanding this single act be done in the spirit of furthering justice. Together, we will ensure that this will be our legacy.”    

Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D., national president of The Links, Incorporated, said: 

 “For too long, African Americans, and women in particular, have had to wait for access and permission to be heard without harm. As members of The Links, Incorporated and gatekeepers of our communities, we can no longer allow the power of our voices to be silenced by tactics and individuals who are afraid of a fair fight. As we prepare for one of the most important and historical elections of our lifetime, it is imperative that the nation’s leaders fully restore the Voting Rights Act. It is our right to have unfettered access to the purest form of democracy – voting. This IS the course of action that is integral in ‘Transforming Communities ~ Fulfilling Our Purpose’.”    

Gwainevere Catchings Hess, president of The Black Women’s Agenda Inc., said: 

We together, are those people called for this time, and this fight — the fight to restore the Voting Rights Act is only the tip of the spear. Deliberate inaction may be as evil and immoral as actions, and that is the case here, as we have lived for more than seven years in this nation without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. This reauthorization must be done, and it will be done. Our greatest mistake will be demanding too little in such a time as this. The greatest mistake of the people currently in power will be to underestimate the will, ingenuity and determination of this generations’ commitment to full Black political power and to the freedom and sovereignty guaranteed by our ancestors, by our Constitution, and by our Creator.” 

Contact: Martha Waggoner | [email protected] | 919-295-0802

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: the Poor People’s Jubilee Platform, addresses these issues.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc. is composed of nine international Greek-letter sororities and fraternities: The council leaders are: Dr. Everett B. Ward, General President of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Chairman of Council of Presidents, National Pan-Hellenic Council; Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Reuben A. Shelton III, Esq., Grand Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.; Dr. David Marion, Grand Basileus of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; Beverly E. Smith, National President and CEO of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; Micheal E. Cristal, International President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.; Valerie Hollingsworth Baker; International Centennial President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; Rasheeda S. Liberty, International Grand Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.; Andre R. Mason, International Grand Polaris of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. and Vanetta Cheeks Reeder, National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc.  President.

The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists of more than 16,000 professional women of color in 288 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.

International Black Women’s Public Policy Institute (IBWPPI) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization led by a collective of 17 inter-generational women leaders representing the interests of women and girls in countries throughout the African diaspora. Our board includes women from North America, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Cuba, Haiti, and countries throughout the continent of Africa. Our vision is to connect and advocate for Black Women globally through acts of kindness and public policy.  The mission of the organization is to be the convener of hearings and discussions that evaluate the impact of current public policies, and to advocate for new policies and legislative remedies that address major threats to the well-being of Black Women, their families, and their communities.  We support, train and place women in internships and fellowships that give voice to and prioritize the agenda for Black Women in the public policy arena.

The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. A disproportionate number of black women are represented within statistics related to poverty, and lack access to economic and educational opportunity. The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) is devoted to advancing, securing, and protecting the rights of these women. Constantly, the women of BWA strive to acquire greater understanding and cooperation about issues that affect all women and their families, while searching for new knowledge and new conceptualizations about said problems. Through the establishment of social priorities (an agenda), BWA facilitates discussions that lead to effective policies and meaningful change. Their continuous vigilance on issues affecting Black women worldwide empower women to step up and mitigate the gender gaps that affect women in our society. 

United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdictions- United States’ A full history and background of the United Supreme Council of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of the Southern Jurisdictions is provided in detail available at: https://www.aasrphasj.org/index.php/uschome/.