Poor People's Campaign

August 27, 2020

The Poor People’s Campaign called out the lies of the Trump administration on issues including the economy,  voting, health care and race during a news conference in Charlotte on Thursday, the last day of the Republican National Convention.

Speakers included: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and president of Repairers of the Breach;  Ana Blackburn, a tri-chair of the North Carolina campaign; Jessy Milicevic, a small business owner in Charlotte; and Jade X. Jackson of Charlotte, who talked about health care.

Members of the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice who spoke were: Rev. Glencie Rhedrick, Dr. Debra Majeed, Bishop Tonyia Rawls; and Dr. Rodney Sadler. 

In addition, Rev. Barber read a statement from Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of Kairos: The Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice. 

Below are quotes from each speaker: 


The RNC is “trying to use God as a wedge issue to stoke fear and division. And we are here to say in God’s name, thou shalt not lie.” 

One of Trump’s lies is that “non-violent protesters are a personal threat to people who need to defend themselves. And then this convention lied when it lifted up the McCloskeys, a couple that threatened to shoot non-violent protesters that marched past their home in St. Louis. And after they lifted them up at this convention, the next day, a 17-year- old drove to Kenosha and shot and killed protesters with an assault rifle, having been fed this foolishness.

“Those are the lies. But the truth is, we have seen what Trump is doing and what (Sen. Mitch) McConnell and (Sen. Thom) Tillis are accepting before.”

Rev. Barber then read a statement that “these protesters are forcing themselves into situations that inflame the local people,” which was said not by Trump but by Alabama Gov. John Patterson, who was celebrating Ku Klux Klan attacks on Freedom Riders in 1961. 

“This language is coming straight out of the racist playbook. It’s a lie that Black people are coming to get you. It’s a lie that Trump is trying to keep the suburbs safe. … The real fear is not having health care. Not having living wages, not having sick leave. Not having unemployment, not having rent forgiveness and mortgage forgiveness and not having a moratorium on having people’s utilities cut off.”

Trump also lies when he claims to protect voting, Barber said, when it’s Trump and McConnell who have refused to fix the Voting Rights Act for over 2,600 days. And he lies when he says that mail-in ballots aren’t secure, he said. 

“There is no real controversy around mail-in ballots. The real controversy is how systemic voter suppression has kept millions of people from accessing their right to the ballot. That’s the truth. “

“Lies were at the backdrop of slavery. Lies were at the backdrop of women not being given the right to vote. Lies have been at the backdrop of those who would give more money to corporations than they would give to communities. And we have seen at this convention nothing but a convention of lies, and we’re calling it out.” 

Statement from REV. THEOHARIS: 

Since before Donald Trump took office, he has been using and abusing the poor — treating half of the very population he is supposed to be serving and protecting as less than nothing.

“In the midst of the current pandemic, the Trump administration and many others in positions of power who are speaking at this convention this week wasted precious time worrying more about the perception of the crisis than its reality and have prioritized private profits of health care companies and the largest corporations and financial markets over all of our well-being.

“And now he comes to plead his case to the nation for another four years and does not present a policy agenda that lifts the load of poverty, that does not declare climate change a natural disaster but instead that fans the fires of racism and racial division and continues to militarize our country and communities.

“Enough is enough. Stop the violence. Do no harm to the poor or women or children. Stop spilling innocent blood. You have been hurting our people and it’s gone on far too long and we won’t be silent anymore.”

ANA BLACKBURN,  tri-chair, North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign:

“We are not surprised to be seeing coming out of this state and the nation bills that are currently causing voter suppression and as well as oppression of the Latino and immigrant community. Because the demographics show that this election cycle are the Latinos in the numbers, rising in political voting power. All you’ve got to do when you want to see what a moral agenda looks like is seek out facts and truth, which is what is missing from this nation and our political leadership — facts and truth.”

BISHOP TONYIA RAWLS, founder and executive director of the Freedom Center for Social Justice and founder and senior pastor at Sacred Souls United Church of Christ:

“As a cleric, I take great offense at the fact that a standard of this president of the United States citizens’ war chest is lies, character assassinations and seeming disdain for the rule of law and, most dangerous of all, the call for the most base emotions and actions in American citizens, rising those concerns and fears up so that he might hide. 

“Who is fighting one might ask when he wants to suggest that those who oppose him are not Christian?

“Who is he speaking about when he suggests that as we stand and exercise our constitutionally given right to protest who are you talking about when you say that these are dissidents and enemies of the country?” 

Dr. DEBRA MAJEED, professor emeritus, Beloit College, and representative of the Muslim faith: 

Trump “has lied about Muslims, he has lied about Black people, he has lied about people of color, he has lied about all people of marginal context — his lies are speaking to generations of generations and keeping us at the bottom.”

“Our prayer today must be more than just a gathering of like-minded people, our prayer today most be more than an agreement and a couple of amens. Our prayer must be a prayer of action so that the people of Charlotte, the people of North Carolina know that when people of God say God has called us to speak and to speak against lies and to speak against injustice, and to speak against evil, then God has called us out there to be a witness for God, a witness for lives because that’s the way we eradicate lies and eradicate injustice.”

RODNEY SADLER, associate professor, University Presbyterian Seminary: 

I just want to ask a question, how can you say that you are Christian when God said that we are all made in God’s image, yet you call Mexicans rapists, and you call Black people those that have nothing to lose, and you call those who are Muslim those who are demonized and less than human?

How can you say that you follow Jesus when, when Jesus says you are to care for those who are needy, those who are lacking food and water, and you determine that we will demonize the poor, treat the needy as those who are an abomination?

“How can you say that you are a Christian when Jesus said we are to welcome the alien, and you want to put the alien in cages and you want to separate children from their mothers and fathers?

“How can we say we follow Jesus when Jesus said we are to care for the sick, and we try to take away the affordable care act and offer nothing in return for people to have their medical treatment cared for?”

JESSY MILICEVIC, small business owner: 

“President’s Trump’s mishandling of this pandemic and the economic fallout that has come with it made me wonder whether I can survive in this country much longer. As members of the so-called middle class, my family is one paycheck away from losing everything

“I work because I have to, to keep my family afloat, to keep my family fed. The paycheck that I bring in takes care of my family. 

“The GOP would rather hold American families by the throat and watch us suffer instead of working with the Democrats to get a new stimulus bill passed. They are allowing their pride and love of power to blind them to the needs of the American people.” 

“This time is especially hard on moms. Mothers across the country especially working moms, especially Black and brown moms, especially single moms, we are all suffering

“So many of us are unemployed, and so many of us don’t know how we are gonna feed our babies. We are in survival mode, and so much of the family responsibility falls on our shoulders. We are the kisser of boo-boo’s, chaser of nighttime monsters, but now we are also the chaser of an invisible virus. We are the one our children depend on to keep them safe, housed and fed during a time of absolute fear. Maternal mental health has always been swept aside as we are supposed to bootstrap our way through life

“We need a stimulus to feed our babies, we need to be able to pay for childcare when we do finally get a job.” 

JADE X. JACKSON, health care speaker: 

Jackson said she has had three heart attacks and kidney failure, along with other health issues. 

Donald Trump and others “are trying to break the healthcare system. He said that he alone could fix this. And I went without health insurance in 2018 and I spent a total of 11 weeks in the hospital accruing hundreds of thousands of debt and ruined credit. Jesus says in Matthew 25, that what you have done the least for these, you have done for me. … We must vote for change.”

REV. GLENCIE RHEDRICK, co-chair, Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice: 

“We are here to send a message. We are here to send a message — that we are tired of the lies, we are tired of the noise. And we stand on a firm foundation, a firm foundation.” 

Contact: Martha Waggoner | [email protected]

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.