Washington Poor People’s Campaign

Forward Together! Not One Step Back!

by Dorothy Van Soest and Romy Garcia, Members of the Washington Poor People’s Campaign Coordinating Committee

Our goal is to create a Beloved Community and this will require a qualitative change in our soul as well as a quantitative change in our lives.

—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

At the November program meeting of the Seattle Fellowship of Reconciliation Chapter, we began our presentation about the Washington Poor People’s Campaign with the vision of a beloved community, the concept first coined by philosopher and theologian, FOR founder Josiah Royce, and then popularized by Dr. King, himself a member of FOR. Dr. King’s beloved community philosophy centered on the belief that “racism, bigotry and prejudices will one day be replaced ‘by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood’ and that ‘poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it.’”

Actualizing the beloved community constitutes the ongoing work for people of faith and conscience who value the dignity of each person and the sacredness of Mother Earth and illustrates how the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s vision of a world of justice, peace, freedom and environmental regeneration and adaptation is perfectly aligned with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

The Poor People’s Campaign: Past and Present

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others called for a “revolution of values” in America. They sought to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and impacted communities across the country. Their name was a direct cry from the underside of history: The Poor People’s Campaign. 

In 2018, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival picked up this unfinished work. From Alaska to Arkansas, the Bronx to the border, people are coming together to confront the interlocking evils of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the war economy, and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism.

At this critical juncture, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is needed to shift the moral narrative, impact policies and elections at every level of government, and build lasting power for poor and impacted people. It is a moral fusion movement that unites people all over the country to address the five interlocking injustices that have led to over 140 million people being poor or low wage. It is a fusion cross-class movement led by poor people of all backgrounds and their allies who come from every region and state of the country. While grassroots from the states up, it includes over a hundred national sponsors, 15 national faith endorsements, and thousands of allies.

Creating a Third Reconstruction

The Poor People’s Campaign is building towards a Third Reconstruction that draws on the transformational history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the civil rights struggles of the 20th century. The Third Reconstruction is a revival of our constitutional commitment to establish justice, provide for the general welfare, end decades of austerity, and recognize that policies that center the 140 million poor and low-income people in the country are also good economic policies that can heal and transform the nation.

In May of this year, the Poor People’s Campaign joined Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Barbara Lee when they announced a congressional resolution titled, Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up.  In June, the Washington Poor People’s Campaign joined more than 50 simultaneous actions across the country to deliver the resolution to and demand that our members of the US House of Representatives embrace it.

The Mass Poor Peoples & Low Wage Workers Assembly and Moral March on Washington, June 18th 2022

Between now and June 18, 2022, the Washington Poor People’s Campaign along with forty-six other state campaigns will focus on organizing toward a generationally transformative event, a moral fusion moment of gatherings locally and a mass gathering in Washington DC. It is one part of the broader movement to realize a Third Reconstruction that is building across the country.

It is not just a one-day event. It is a declaration that there are more than 140 million poor and low-income people and we must do more to make them hear us and meet the needs of the people—a declaration that this is not a political game, that people are dying, that more than 50% of our children are poor or low wealth—a declaration that we are here, that we will never again be divided, and that we will be heard— a declaration that we are doing M.O.R.E.—Mobilizing, Organizing, Registering, and Educating—of poor and low wealth who are eligible to vote to vote in 2022—a declaration that we understand, in the words of Frederick Douglass during the years leading up to the First Reconstruction, that “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

An Invitation to Become a Mobilizing Partner

As part of a moral fusion movement that is uniting people all over the country to address the five interlocking injustices, the Washington Poor People’s Campaign is building people power here by inviting groups, organizations, and faith communities to become mobilizing partners. Local and regional chapters of organizations that are already endorsing/mobilizing partners on the national level, such as the National Fellowship of Reconciliation, are invited to affirm their alignment by signing on as a mobilizing partner of the Washington state PPC as well. For more information, go to www.washingtonppc.org. To sign on, write to washington@poorpeoplescampaign.org and let us know your chapter is in alignment with the PPC fundamental principles and that you want to be a mobilizing partner, along with contact information for a person with whom we can communicate.

To sign up for regular communications, register at: www.poorpeoplescampaign.org