On May 14th in over 40 state capitals across the country, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, will begin 40 days of action to thrust the issues of poverty, racism and all forms of hate, militarism, environmental degradation and the nation’s distorted morality into the national conversation. Picking up the work of Dr. King and many others who launched the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1967, today’s effort provides a unique opportunity for peacemakers and justice seekers in various movements to work together to bring into existence a more just and peaceful world.
Several Veterans For Peace chapters and members are working with their state Poor People Campaign organizers. If you have not already connected with your state’s campaign click here for your state organizing committee’s email address. You should also be able to find your state on Facebook and Twitter.
Veterans For Peace is partnering with About Face: Veterans Against the War, formerly known as Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out to develop materials and messaging for our participation in the campaign’s efforts to address militarism and war. We will provide more information to you soon.
Since King’s community was global, so too must our “home” be where all oppressed people who suffer from the violence of war-torn nations reside. VFP must have no borders in our attempts to grow our movement and make alliances with others who share our mission. We must work to build peace at home, peace abroad. As Dr. King said, “The Triple Evils of poverty, racism, and war are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the ‘Beloved Community.’ When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.”
Join the Poor People's Campaign
Just a year before his assassination, at a Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff retreat in May 1967, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
I think it is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights…[W]hen we see that there must be a radical redistribution of economic and political power, then we see that for the last twelve years we have been in a reform movement…That after Selma and the Voting Rights Bill, we moved into a new era, which must be an era of revolution…In short, we have moved into an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society.
This commitment is needed from all leaders interested in taking up King’s mantle. He demonstrated the difficulty and necessity of uniting the poor and dispossessed across race, religion, geography and other lines that divide. In our efforts to commemorate and build a Poor People’s Campaign for our times, we will undertake an analysis of the 1967-68 Campaign. We aim to stand on the shoulders of those who came before and put effort into learning lessons and getting into step together.
Read more of the history of the Poor People's Campaign
Fundamental Principles of the Poor People's Campaign
We are rooted in a moral analysis based on our deepest religious and constitutional values that demand justice for all. Moral revival is necessary to save the heart and soul of our democracy.
We are committed to lifting up and deepening the leadership of those most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division.
We believe in the dismantling of unjust criminalization systems that exploit poor communities and communities of color and the transformation of the “War Economy” into a “Peace Economy” that values all humanity.
We believe that equal protection under the law is non-negotiable.
We believe 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.
We recognize the centrality of systemic racism in maintaining economic oppression must be named, detailed and exposed empirically, morally and spiritually. Poverty and economic equality cannot be understood apart from a society built on white supremacy.
We aim to shift the distorted moral narrative often promoted by religious extremists in the nation from personal issues like prayer in school, abortion, sexuality, gun rights, property rights to systemic injustices like how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.
We will build up the power of people and state-based movements to serve as a vehicle for a powerful moral movement in the country and to transform the political, economic and moral structures of our society.
We recognize the need to organize at the state and local level—many of the most regressive policies are being passed at the state level, and these policies will have long and lasting effect, past even executive orders. The movement is not from above but below.
We will do our work in a non-partisan way—no elected officials or candidates get the stage or serve on the State Organizing Committee of the Campaign. This is not about left and right, Democrat or Republican but about right and wrong.
We uphold the need to do a season of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to break through the tweets and shift the moral narrative. We are demonstrating the power of people coming together across issues and geography and putting our bodies on the line to the issues that are affecting us all.
The Campaign and all its Participants and Endorsers embrace nonviolence. Violent tactics or actions will not be tolerated.