Moral Poverty Action Congress June 18-22, 2023
By Don Bryant
I now have full appreciation for the value of in-person conferencing after three years of pandemic-related isolation. The three-day Poor People’s Campaign Moral Poverty Action Congress was everything I expected and more.
Presentations in general sessions were educational, entertaining, and inspirational. Sharing space with hundreds of other campaign activists energized us and affirmed our place in the movement, lifting our broken society with 140 million poor people, from the bottom up.
The Poor People’s Campaign insisted on strict guidelines for health and safety, requiring all participants to be fully vaccinated and with negative COVID-19 test results. This was carried out by local organizers in every PPC district. Most of us wore face masks throughout the conference, as well, except during dining and when speaking at the microphone.
General sessions were well-organized tutorials covering the contents, impact, and sources of the Poor People’s Campaign national and state reports on how poverty destroys lives through policy decisions on all levels of government. These well-documented reports were our library of talking points that we raised with our congressional representatives and senators. Our preparation for the congressional visits continues to help us to amplify the facts in our educational, faith, political, and social circles, and in the media! National Fact Sheet on Poverty https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/2023-National-Fact-Sheet-8.5-%C3%97-11-in.pdf Ohio Fact Sheet on Poverty https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Ohio-State-Fact-Sheet.pdf One error was found by our delegation regarding the minimum wage which is currently 10.10/hour
Music or theomusicology is an important component in the Poor People’s Campaign. Theomusicology is a combination of abolition movement spirituals, civil rights movement songs and modern-day spirited songs. Music delivers our message and is an inspiration for the movement, especially when it’s live and in
person. Reverend Bishop William Barber invites one thousand congregations around the nation to sing our songs in their services. I plan to bring Poor People’s Campaign songs to the Unitarian Universalist congregation where I am a member.
Thanks to multiple generous campaign donors, including Cleveland Peace Action, the national PPC was able to accommodate the hundreds of Poverty Action Congress delegates in a 4-star hotel in Washington D.C. with exceptional conference services, clean and comfortable rooms, and satisfying delicious meals served buffet style in large fine dining rooms with friendly and efficient servers.
On the second day of our Moral Poverty Action Congress (MPAC), we attended a morning general session to review the previous day’s presentations and sang more songs. Then, fortified with facts, resources, and inspiration, we boarded buses to Capitol Hill for what Rev. Barber defined, “not an insurrection but a resurrection.” Our MPAC spread out on Capitol Hill to meet with our representatives and senators to deliver our important information, often with personal stories. Many of the meetings were prearranged by delegates but some representatives and senators neglected to respond or schedule a meeting. We went to their offices anyway and met with their staff.
The Poor People’s Campaign calls on us to vitalize a “Third Reconstruction” built on the transformational history of the First Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of the civil rights struggles of the 20th century. The Third Reconstruction is a revival of our constitutional commitment to establish justice, provide for the general welfare, end decades of austerity, and recognize that policies we recommend for the 140 million poor and low-income people in the country are also good for the nation. To do this we must deal with the systemic detriments of a capitalist state: racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the denial of health care, militarism, and nationalism. Our movement is building across the country in the Poor People’s Campaign’s 45 state coordinating committees and network of more than 250 labor and organizational partners and hundreds of faith partners, and dozens of national faith bodies.
Cleveland Peace Action (CPA) fully supports the Poor People’s Campaigns objectives. CPA is in solidarity and amplifies the PPC objections to the 2023 $1.1 trillion, more than 62 percent of our government’s discretionary budget, that is
being allocated to war and weapons, excessive law enforcement, mass incarceration, deportations, and immigrant detentions. Forward together!