As I look back on 2018, I feel great hope for the movement that is building in New York. Across our state this year, new people came together with renewed energy, and with your support, that people power will continue to grow in 2019.
Just over a year ago, Labor-Religion Coalition began coordinating the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in New York. After months of organizing meetings and trainings around the state, we joined in the campaign's launch in May with 40 days of coordinated action in over 35 state capitals. Here in New York, more than 1300 people participated in direct action in Albany, including 360 people risking arrest in nonviolent civil disobedience.
For 6 weeks in a row, we disrupted business-as-usual at the Capitol. Through personal stories, songs and slogans, we told the truth about how the structural violence of poverty, racism, environmental destruction, and militarism is hurting our communities. Nationally, the 40 Days of Action represented the largest wave of civil disobedience in the 21st-century United States.
The campaign's launch was incredibly exciting, but it was just the beginning. In October, we convened 110 activists from across the state for a People’s Assembly. At this gathering we deepened relationships across region, age, race, gender and issue and strategized for 2019. Teams from 10 regions of New York returned home with plans for organizing in their communities. (Watch a short video of the Assembly here.)
Labor-Religion Coalition has played a central role in all of this. “The truth is that there would be no Poor People’s Campaign in New York State without the Labor-Religion Coalition,” says Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice. “Its work has set a standard and example for all the nearly 40 states taking part in the campaign.”
Now I am asking for your help to keep this momentum going. In 2019, we will continue to broaden and deepen this movement, holding organizing meetings and truth-telling actions in new parts of New York. We will also engage with and make demands of our new legislature in Albany, continuing to fight for a moral budget, workers' rights, single-payer healthcare, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform.
Our ability to do this work depends on you. Over the last two years, threats to organized labor from the Trump administration and the Janus vs. AFSCME Supreme Court decision have resulted in a 47% decrease in our funding from labor unions. We have been able to survive only because of the generosity of individuals like you, but we are still facing a $5,000 deficit as we come to the end of 2018. Closing that gap is imperative to sustaining our work and the critical role it plays in New York and beyond.
Please consider making a year-end contribution by going to laborreligion.org/donate today.
It’s a privilege to partner with you in this work. Thanks for your support, and we wish a happy holidays to you and yours!
Rev. Emily McNeill Joe Paparone
Executive Director Lead Organizer