Anthracite Unite is proud to announce that we have joined The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. launched the original Poor People’s Campaign in the months prior to his tragic assassination in 1968. As he explained in his classic “Beyond Vietnam” speech, the Campaign took aim at “the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” in pursuit of a “radical revolution of values.”
“…we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing‐oriented” society to a “person‐oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth… A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
The current Campaign will reignite those efforts while also taking into consideration the particular conditions we face today. Poverty has worsened, racism is alive and well, and the United States continues to wage endless war. The new Campaign is adding environmental devastation to the list of “evils” — a problem that has disproportionately affected the poor and dispossessed and jeopardized our very existence on this planet.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. William Barber of Repairers of the Breach, who famously spearheaded the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Kairos Center.
In 2017, the Campaign hosted mass meetings across the country to get the word out (video footage available here). Building on that momentum (click here for a sampling of press coverage), The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will be in full swing during 2018, with nonviolent actions planned in at least 25 states.
Among other Fundamental Principles, the Campaign rests on the belief “that people should not live in or die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist. Blaming the poor and claiming that the United States does not have an abundance of resources to overcome poverty are false narratives used to perpetuate economic exploitation, exclusion, and deep inequality.”
The Poor People’s Campaign in the Anthracite Coal Region
The Poor People’s Campaign has clear relevance to the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania.
We have some of the highest poverty and joblessness rates in the state; with the wounds of past ecological devastation not yet fully healed, new threats to our environment and to our health have sprung up in the form of fracking, pipeline construction, and the like; and we were recently at the center of a national resurgence of anti-immigrant resentment.
The Campaign also shares with Anthracite Unite a deep commitment to “building unity across lines of division” that will transcend the politics of divide and conquer. As people from the Coal Region know all too well, and as we have covered in previous posts on this blog – for examples, click here, here, or here – elites have been pitting poor and working class people against one another in this area dating all the way back to the coal-mining days. They pit immigrants against native-born folks, Democrats against Republicans, rural people against urban folks. In each case, we’re told that our so-called “opponents” are the source of our problems, which, in reality, are caused by an immoral system that puts profit over people.
How to Get Involved
While the campaign is national in scope, state- and local-level activity is at its core. Anthracite Unite will be joining several other organizations from across Pennsylvania in coordinating a variety of events, including forty days of civil disobedience in the spring. These events will serve the broader purpose of changing the narrative about poverty and building power and organization among the poor and dispossessed in our state.
Take the pledge to get involved in 40 days of action this spring here in Pennsylvania! You can also Contact Us if you or your organization has an interest contributing directly to our efforts in the Coal Region.
Veteran activists are of course welcome, but the Campaign is particularly committed to “organizing the unorganized” and bringing in folks who might not have campaign experience but who nevertheless have been affected by the social ills that it’s combating.
For more information on The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, including a full list of its fundamental principles and an in-depth historical background, visit the Campaign’s website.
To keep abreast of what is happening around the campaign in Pennsylvania, check out and follow Pennsylvania PPC Facebook page.
You can also follow the national and state campaigns on Twitter: @UniteThePoor / @PennsylvaniaPPC
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