The Poor People’s Campaign Goes to Congress

How does a campaign led by the poor and dispossessed engage with elected officials without the politicos stealing the spotlight for partisan purposes? That’s a question the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has grappled with since they launched a series of actions in May.
One rule has been clear: no politicians at the podium at campaign-organized events. Instead, the weekly rallies that have taken place over the past month in more than 35 states have featured ordinary Americans speaking from their own experiences about the campaign’s inter-related targets: systemic racism, poverty and inequality, militarism and the war economy, and ecological devastation.
But several members of Congress remained eager to support the initiative, which marks the 50th anniversary of a similar effort launched by Rev. Martin Luther King and other leaders in 1968. This past week, they found two powerful ways to do that while maintaining the campaign’s non-partisan focus on the most vulnerable.
On June 14, several Democrats skipped the Congressional Baseball Game and spent an hour on the House floor reading testimonials by campaign activists who are facing severe economic hardship, from homelessness to predatory lenders to paychecks that don’t cover basic needs. (Full video)
“We are appealing to people across the political spectrum, at this time of a roaring stock market and trumped-up claims of great wealth and bounty in this society, to look at the cost of social and economic inequality,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), as he opened the session. “We need to look at the situation of wealth in America “not from the top down but from the bottom up.”

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