Earlier this month, Rev. William Barber of North Carolina's Moral Mondays movement announced that he is joining the leadership of the New Poor People's Campaign, which will continue the legacy of the Poor People's Campaign that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. launched almost 50 years ago.
As Rev. Barber wrote in an essay for Think Progress,
As our social fabric is stretched thin by widening income inequality, politicians criminalize the poor, fan the flames of racism and xenophobia to divide the poor, and steal from the poor to give tax breaks to our richest neighbors and budget increases to a bloated military... This moment requires us to push into the national consciousness a deep moral analysis that is rooted in an agenda to combat systemic poverty and racism, war mongering, economic injustice, voter suppression, and other attacks on the most vulnerable. We need a long term, sustained movement led by the people who are directly impacted by extremism.
Here in New York State, we have the widest income inequality in the nation. More than 3 million New Yorkers live below the federal poverty line, and in many upstate cities, more than 4 in 10 children are poor. Statewide, 44 percent of New Yorkers earn less than the cost of basic necessities. While people of all races are impacted, black and brown communities are hit disproportionately hard.
The kind of movement Rev. Barber describes is desperately needed in New York.
That's why this summer and fall, Labor-Religion Coalition and partners across the state will hold a Truth Commission on Poverty in New York State to shine a light on these realities and - most importantly - the leadership and insight of those directly impacted by them. This project is part of a national Truth Commission on the Right Not to Be Poor, organized by the New Poor People’s Campaign.
Four Truth Commission events are planned in 2017. Click the links below for more information and to RSVP:
- Capital Region Truth Commission, July 13, IUE-CWA Local 301 Hall, Schenectady, NY
Long Island Truth Commission, September 12, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish Hall, Wyandanch, NY
Regional Poor People's Campaign Revival, October 16-18, Binghamton, NY: The findings of the truth commission will be presented as part of a statewide gathering with Rev. Dr. William Barber and the New Poor People's Campaign, in conjunction with the annual Faith for a Fair NY Conference. More information about the schedule and registration will be available soon.
The Truth Commission on Poverty in New York State will be an important step in telling the truth about the impact of racial and economic injustice on our communities, bringing together directly impacted New Yorkers and other leaders from across the state, and contributing to a movement to - in Rev. Barber's words - "revive the heart of our democracy."