Poor People’s Campaign marches on statehouse in Columbus as part of a national campaign

(Plain Press, June 2018)    Poor people, clergy and advocates on behalf of the Poor People’s Campaign have marched on the Ohio Capital for three consecutive weeks, in a non-violent fashion, to demand that state officials address the needs of the poor in Ohio.

The first Ohio protest, which took place on May 14, approximately 100 participants marched to the offices of the gubernatorial candidates. The purpose was to deliver letters asking that if they were elected, to make it a priority to address the needs of the poor in Ohio.

The second Ohio protest on May 21, which occurred a week after the historic re-ignition of the Poor People’s Campaign, highlighted the connection between systemic racism, poverty and voter suppression. Marching with signs that read “Voter Suppression=The True Hacking Of Our Democracy” and “Systemic Racism is Violence,” the group called for the immediate restoration of the Voting Rights Act, an end to racist gerrymandering and the reversal of state laws that prevent municipalities from raising wages.

The third Ohio protest, that took place on May 29, focused on militarism. Protesters carried signs which read “Money for Veterans, not for war” and “Build Schools, Not Walls.”

The Ohio protests are among three dozen taking place nationwide and included a national protest that took place at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

The protests mark an emphatic re-ignition of the Poor People’s Campaign, which was the 1968 movement started by the late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. and others to challenge racism, poverty and militarism. Over 40 days, poor and disenfranchised people, moral leaders and advocates engage in nonviolent direct action, including mobilizing voters, knocking on tens of thousands of doors, and holding teach-ins, in addition to other activities.

A Poor People’s Campaign Moral Agenda, which was announced last month, is what is to guide the 40 days of action. The Agenda calls for major changes to address systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and the distorted moral narrative that includes the repeal of the 2017 federal tax law, implementation of federal and state living wage laws, universal single-payer health care and clean water for all.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-organized by Repairers of the Breach, a social justice organization founded by the Rev. William J. Barber; the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary: and hundreds of local and national grassroots groups across the country.

Editor’s Note: For information on how to get involved in the Poor People’s Campaign, email Larry Bresler at Organize Ohio at lbresler@organizeohio.org or call him at 216-548-0935.

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