The New Poor People’s Campaign Continues the Work of the Civil Rights Movement
Poverty, racism, and militarism were the triple evils Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. organized against in the 1960s. Today’s Poor People’s Campaign is committed to eliminating these global problems by focusing on their root causes
EDDIE CONWAY: Welcome to The Real News. I’m Eddie Conway, coming to you from Annapolis. We’re here at the Poor People’s Campaign for the sixth consecutive week of rally, protests, and demonstration.
MCKENZIE FIELDS: The late Dr. King said that it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself up by his bootstraps. How does one pull themselves up by the bootstraps if they have no boots?
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR: And when white Americans tell the Negro to lift himself by his own bootstraps, they don’t, they don’t look over the legacy of slavery and segregation. Many Negroes by the thousands and millions have been left bootless as a result of all of these years of oppression, and as a result of a society that deliberately made his color a stigma.
EDDIE CONWAY: So far there’s been rallies and demonstrations in state capitals around 37 states and D.C. So I have with me today one of the people that’s joining the Poor People’s Campaign.
REV. DR. STACEY COLE WILSON: God, who is almighty and greater than human creation, We gather before you to acknowledge who you are and how you love; to accept the freedom and power that you give us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in every place, and at all times.
EDDIE CONWAY: Obviously you’re not poor. I’m not poor. She’s not poor. Why are you here?
REV. DR. STACEY COLE WILSON: Because we are one people. We all are connected in some way. And the plight of one definitely affects the others, and we’re concerned about people. We’re not just concerned about our plight, or our fate. We’re concerned about the plight and fate of all people. And because all persons are created in the image of God, we must show up as often as possible to offer our voice, and be a moral conscience to those who may believe that all persons are not worthy of a voice, or those who are marginalized should be left aside. We must stand up for persons at every level.
EDDIE CONWAY: Is this liberation theology, or something similar to that? Because I understand that’s popular in South America, and it’s been popular among a lot of people that read the teachings of Jesus Christ, in terms of his involvement.
REV. DR. STACEY COLE WILSON: I think some would say that. And I think others would say it is what it means to be a believer, a follower of Jesus Christ, who was for poor people, who was a person who advocated for women and children and oppressed, who did advocate for persons to offer their almsgiving for persons in need, to be the-. I don’t want to say good Samaritan, but to be that person who sees the need, not only is concerned about those needs, but is also concerned about transforming those systems that enable those needs to exist.
EDDIE CONWAY: OK. And I know you weren’t around. I was around 50 years ago when Martin Luther King started this. Why do you think there’s still a need for a Poor People’s Campaign 50 years later?
REV. DR. STACEY COLE WILSON: Well, earlier this year in April, around April 4 through the 8th, we were in Memphis, Tennessee. And it’s very clear, I mean, even from the readings of Dr. King, it’s very clear. He wrote a book, Where Do We Go From Here: From Chaos to Community. And in that book he named the three triple evils. And they still exist. Poverty, racism, militarism. And so as long as those exist, and as long as there’s poverty and as long as there are needs in this world that go unmet, we have work to do. And it is far beyond what is happening in one region. It’s what’s happening in the world.
REV. ANGELA MARTIN: It’s hot out here. But it’s getting hotter. It’s getting hotter because the ozone layer is being depleted. It’s getting hotter because our laws are allowing corporations to kill our air. It’s getting hotter because we are a new and unsettling force, and we are taking back the power that we have. So it’s getting hotter.
MICHAEL GRAYHAWK PARSONS: My way of trying to bring everybody together, and I mean everybody, everybody. I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care what your religion is. I don’t care what your language is. Every single human being on this earth is indigenous somewhere.
LUIS LARIN: It’s time for us to keep fighting. It’s time for us to, not to give up. It’s time for us to follow what Martin Luther King start, and it’s our duty to finish his job, and to actually make history and change things. Because we know that another world is possible, and we can make it happen.