Poor and low-income West Virginian women, workers, parents and pastors are asking President Biden on behalf of all 140 million poor and low-income people in this country: Why won’t you meet with us?
In a public letter to President Biden released earlier this week, Pam Garrison and Jean Evansmore, co-chairs of the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign, and Father Lark Muncy, a PPC member, write that their home state needs a full Build Back Better plan, and they decry the lies of Sen. Joe Manchin.
They ask that the president meet with them on Monday, Nov. 15, when the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, led by co-chairs Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, holds a rally in Washington, D.C. The rally will support the Build Back Better plan and other PPC:NCMR policy principles, including an end to the filibuster and voting rights.
“We are parents facing an empty fridge and unsure how we will feed our families. We are working two or three jobs and still can’t afford safe housing. We are essential workers without health insurance,” reads the letter, which all people of conscience are invited to sign. “We are teachers on food stamps. We are pastors whose young people have walked by our doors on their way to hang themselves because they can’t live poor anymore. We are the West Virginians without a senator who represents us and our needs.”
The letter asks President Biden to “invite us to the White House to meet with you in the Oval Office. We will gather representatives from other states, too. We can talk to the media together because this is not a battle between your agenda and Senator Manchin’s agenda. This is about our survival, our very lives, and our chance for justice and promoting the general welfare of all people.”
Garrison is a lifelong low-wage worker who has been married for 42 years to a coal miner and comes from a family of coal miners on her side and her husband’s side. They have two children, one a nurse and another who is disabled. Evansmore, 80, is a great-grandmother with three children. She was raised by her grandparents in Scarbro, West Virginia, and her grandfather was a coal miner and union member. She lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, (where she worked for Raytheon) and Maryland — returning to West Virginia in between — and returned to her home state for good in 2012. She has run a marathon in every state in the nation.
Father Muncy — a pastor in Kermit, West Virginia where he lives with his family, including three children — added his own personal plea to the letter.
“My community is suffering,” he said. “My people are broken, they are defeated and they need a leader who will put strength in their hands. Our children suffer with broken teeth, empty bellies, tattered clothing, and no hope of change. If we are gonna say we are better we have to BE better! Please meet with us, the Poor People’s Campaign, so that we can know them that labor among us.”
The PPC:NCMR also wrote to President Biden in September to request that he meet with poor and low-income people.