By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the leader of Repairers of the Breach, has moved forward with the “Poor People’s Campaign 2.0,” during the 50-year anniversary of the original Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 led by Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
With an agenda focused on poverty, racial justice, voting rights and economic mobility, the Barber-led Poor People’s Campaign recently rallied in Washington.
There are 40 million people living under the poverty line in the United States, according to government data. That’s one in seven Americans.
But the Poor People’s Campaign isn’t just focused on the government’s definition of poverty; this movement is focused on all low-income earning Americans. According to the organization’s website, the poverty and low-income status in the U.S. breaks down, as follows:
• 51.9 percent of children under the age of 18 (38.2 million children)
• 40.7 percent of adults between the ages of 18-64 (81.5 million adults)
• 42.5 percent of our elders over the age of 65 (20.8 million elders)
• 45 percent of women and girls (73.5 million people)
• 33.9 percent of White people (67.1 million people)
• 60.3 percent of Black people (25.9 million people)
• 65.1 percent of Latinx people (37.4 million people)
• 41.1 percent of Asian people (7.6 million people)
Featuring two huge banners reading “Fight Poverty, Not the Poor” on the stage, thousands rallied in Washington D.C. and at other locations across the U.S. for the culmination of the effort and a national call for a “moral revival” against poverty and racism.
On the issue of voting rights, the campaign points out that, “there are fewer voting rights in 2018 than there were 50 years ago when the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed.”
Starting in 2010, shortly after the election of President Barack Obama, 23 states passed voter suppression laws, including gerrymandering and redistricting; laws that made it harder for Blacks and poor people to register to vote; reduced early voting days and hours; purged voter rolls; and more restrictive voter ID laws.
The Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court case, which gutted important provisions of the Voting Rights Act, 14 states put in place new voting restrictions before the 2016 Presidential election and there were 868 fewer polling places across the U.S.
Rev. Barber will continue working through his organization, Repairers of the Breach, to place poverty and economic instability in the forefront of political conversations. Even though the issues impact millions of Americans, the paradigm of lobbyists controlling monied interests often means that issues affecting Blacks rarely come up in political discourse or garner mainstream media attention.