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June 29, 2018

ADVOCACY CENTER INTERN REFLECTS ON THE POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN

THE POOR PEOPLE’S CAMPAIGN
Reflections by Isabel Tashima


When I began my internship with the Disciples Center for Public Witness (www.disciplescenter.org) earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to learn about and engage with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (www.poorpeoplescampaign.org). This campaign, which fights against systemic racism, inequality and poverty, ecological devastation, war economy and militarism, and national immorality has committed itself to 40 days of moral action, holding a rally every Monday for 6 weeks. At each of these rallies, we hear the personal stories of people who, like so many Americans, face the struggles of poverty. These are stories of unfair wages, lack of healthcare, homelessness, and much more. 

In one of the stories, a young woman explained how years ago she would not have considered herself an ally to this movement, but as life often does, things took a turn for the worst and she found herself trapped in poverty, without a place to live. Suddenly, this fight became her own. Her story reminded me that living comfortably can be taken away easily and more families may be at risk of falling into poverty than they realize. In addition, once someone falls into poverty, the structure of our society makes it incredibly difficult to escape it. For this reason, whether we are standing up for ourselves or for others, it is our moral duty to fight this injustice. In such a divided nation, it is often forgotten that our freedom is bound up in each other's. The Poor People’s Campaign acknowledges just that-- for freedom to truly exist for everyone in America, the shackles of all marginalized communities must be removed. If one falls, we all fall. This movement relies on people to uplift each other and take on the mentality that we are all in this together. The Poor People’s Campaign also acknowledges that poverty is not just a single issue, but rather that it is tied to a variety of issues including health, racism, and even the environment-- all of which are addressed in their list of demands.

Although the demands of this campaign may seem ambitious, they are necessary and we should not be discouraged from fighting for them simply because they seem out of reach. Imagine how different this nation would be if the early Civil Rights Movement disbanded because of discouragement. Still however, many may wonder, will this movement go anywhere? Can this actually make a difference? I am in no expert position to say whether it will be successful or not. It has yet to break into the mainstream media and as a Californian living in DC for the first time, I do not know if movements like this come and go often. However, if I believe in any movement to make a difference, it is this one. It is rooted in love and is accepting of all people regardless of race, gender, religion, or identity. Welcoming people of all faiths and identities to unite in the name of love is what makes this campaign special-- it truly is a movement for all people. 

As a History major at UC Berkeley, my favorite historical topic to learn about is the Civil Rights Era and I am especially drawn to the Poor People’s Campaign because its origins go back to 1968; it was a campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was working on at the time of his assassination. Knowing this, I gladly and wholeheartedly put my support behind a campaign that upholds and is inspired by the values of one of my personal heroes. I believe that the Civil Rights Movement was not finished. I believe that the Poor People’s Campaign has been revived to complete what was not finished. I believe that love will overcome the prison that is poverty. Love, above all things is what I believe being a follower of Christ is truly about and it is why I believe the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival has the power to make lasting change.

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