PHILADELPHIA – Hundreds of Poor and low wage workers from Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware gathered in front of City Hall in Center City to call on the City Council and Mayor’s office to prioritize the needs of poor and low wealth communities over the profits of the corporate and donor classes, before hitting the streets to call on Congress and state legislators to do the same.
The demonstration ended with a rally in the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, where Rev. Bishop Barber called on poor and working-class communities to stand up and demand congress prioritize their needs, then vote accordingly in their respective primaries and in November.
After Rev. Baber finished speaking, people from across Pennsylvania spoke about the conditions they’ve faced because of the conditions put in place by government policies that have favored the profits of the rich and powerful.
As protesters made their way from City Hall through downtown via Market Street, march leaders used traditional Freedom Songs from the ’50s, and 60’s to connect people across the generational lines from their day-to-day struggles to the original Poor People’s Campaign and the fight for justice and economic power that began in 1968 with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hundreds of protesters march down Market Street in Center City to demand leaders prioritize the needs of the poor and working-class over the profits of corporations and the donor-class during a Moral Monday march in Philadelphia, PA, on April 25, 2022. (Cory Clark)Both movements come from, and land in the same place; local, state and national leaders must prioritize the needs of poor working-class Americans across the board over the astronomical profits of corporations, powerful donors, and their lobbyists.
“We are here to fight against these corporate moguls, real estate developers, slick politicians who stand against us,” said Melvin Hairston of Save UC Townhomes in Philadelphia. He and at least 60 other residents face possible eviction on July 8, 2022. “It’s time for change, and it must be done now.”
Protesters pushed a comprehensive set of demands from criminal justice reform, funding schools and community programs to calls for a living wage, high-quality universal health, protecting abortion rights, immigration and refugees, and voting rights.
“These aren’t just simple days of actions over individual demands, this is about building a movement of mass poor people and low wage workers demanding generationally transformative change, it is a declaration of the poor of poor and working-class people that builds from the bottom up,” Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
The organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign say the ten stops leading up to the mass protest planned for June 18, 2022, in Washington, DC is to get people to do M.O.R.E.
Poor and low wealth workers need to get Mobilized, Organized, Register, and Educate others as we advance. We need to take our power back and use it to lift ourselves and everyone else with us,” said Margaret Carrow.
We need to do MORE to fully address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of health care, militarism, the war economy, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism.
We need to do MORE to change the narrative and build the power of those most impacted by these injustices.
We need to do MORE to realize a Third Reconstruction agenda that can build this country from the bottom up and realize the nation we have yet to be. Several others present chimed in one by one, echoing Rev. Theoharis’s comments before leaving City Hall on the march.
“In his last speech Dr. King declared America as sick, he had been talking about the trigon of evils, militarism, poverty and racism throughout that last year, he had been talking about the 1 percent and how they ruled over the 99 percent for years, but he really pulled it all together in that speech,” said Rev. Bishop Barber. “He lost a lot of support over the course of the year before his final speech, but he was undeterred, he went out and found a group of people among the lowest of the low, the rejected and he built a movement to address the two America’s. He never made it to Washington because he was murdered, but that didn’t stop those who understood what he was telling folks was the truth, they carried on and so to must we carry on in his work.”
“We’re going to Washington, DC, and we’re going to make ourselves heard, and we’re going to keep making ourselves heard all the way to the ballot box and beyond as long as it takes, too many people are dying from poverty, 700 people per day and that was before COVID, whatever it takes get to DC on June 18, 2022, we can’t survive if we don’t stand up, make ourselves heard and our power felt everywhere power is wielded,” said Barber.