Poor People's Campaign

Action comes 4 weeks before June 18th Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls 

Justin Pearson | [email protected]
Connie Dyson | [email protected]
Martha Waggoner | [email protected]

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival continues its march toward Washington with a rally Monday at the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where an assassin tried to silence the movement when he killed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

When Rev. King was assassinated in 1968, he had come to Memphis to support the striking sanitation workers as part of the Poor People’s Campaign. Now the PPC:NCMR – the movement that MLK, the National Welfare Rights Organization and faith leaders began – is coming to Memphis to say: We won’t be silent anymore. 

As Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the PPC:NCMR, said in Memphis in 2017: 

“Memphis cannot continue to be known as a place of King’s death. Where there’s a crucifixion, there must be a resurrection.”

The Mid-South Mobilization Committee, made up of people from Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, will lead a march and rally as part of a Mobilization Tour stop on the way to the Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls on June 18th. 

The program will be live streamed here. The tour route starts at 4:30pm CT at Church Park (S. Fourth St at Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) to gather for the March to the National Civil Rights Museum (450 Mulberry St.) for the 6pm CT mass meeting and rally. 

The National Civil Rights Museum, location of the Lorraine Motel, now has a Smithsonian exhibition titled “Solidarity Now” about the original Poor People’s Campaign, and it’s added an exhibit titled “Poverty Today” to represent the evolution of the historic to the current movement. 

The national co-chairs, Bishop Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, will join poor and impacted testifiers from the Mid-South.  

The priorities and demands of poor and low-wealth people from these three states will be front and center as they take on the lie of scarcity and put forward a Third Reconstruction agenda that demands, among other things: updating the poverty measure to reflect the real cost of living; enact a living wage and guarantee the right of all workers to form and join unions and guarantee quality health care for all. 

All the states joining the Monday program suffer from high poverty and the lack of living minimum wage: 


StatePLI- Raw numbersPLI – %BlackLatinxWhite
Tennessee2.5 million38%58% or 631,00066% or 263,000 37% or 1.8 million 
Arkansas    1.2 million 43%62% or 275,00063% or 138,00038% or 814,000
Mississippi 1.3 million 48%65% or 708,00066% or 54,00039% or 649,000

Our study tells us that poor and low-income people hold power at the ballot box when they vote. In the 2020 presidential election, poor and low-income people made up 39% of voters in Tennessee. In Arkansas the figure was 47%. A second round of analysis showed they accounted for 43% of voters in Mississippi. 

Previous tour stops were Cleveland; Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; New York City, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Memphis is our last tour stop before our June 18th march and assembly. 

The June 18th assembly in DC will be a generationally transformative declaration of the power of poor and low-wealth people and our moral allies to say that this system is killing ALL of us and we can’twe won’twe refuse to be silent anymore!

“It is NOT just a day of action. It is a declaration of an ongoing, committed moral movement to 1) shift the moral narrative; 2) build power; and 3) make real policies to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up.”

—Bishop William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis. co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival