The August 6th Hiroshima Commemoration with the Golden Rule crew began with some rousing rap and poetry by three artists brought by Al Porter, of Black on Black Crime: December Rose, Joe Motley, and Mr. Powers. We were then washed out by a drenching rain. Wet but undeterred, we re-created the remainder of the program on Zoom, on August 9th, the Nagasaki 78th Anniversary. Some of it is live, some taped.
- Speakers Terry Lodge, Doug Horner, Pat Marida, and the Golden Rule’s Helen Jaccard
- Music by Doug McWilliams/Jani Wanner McWilliams and Collective Vision
- Poetry by Clarissa Jakobsons and the late Daniel Thompson (read by Hailey Moran)
- Virtual luminaries and singing
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!
Cleveland Peace Action’s statement, July 25, 2023
The Poor People’s Campaign has just ended its three day congress in Washington, DC. Fifty-five years after Martin Luther King, Jr., initiated the first Poor’s People Campaign, the issues surrounding the morality of our national budget remain largely the same. Even then, King made the connection between our wars and the depth of American poverty. In reference to the war of his day in Vietnam, he noted that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift, is approaching spiritual death.”
Our budgets reflect our values as a nation. Even after the end of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there continues to be an emphasis on spending our money on the instruments of death at the expense of poor and working people here in the U.S.
Source: National Priorities Project
This May’s budget deal reflected the current national priorities of our two political parties. As we faced a shutdown of the federal government which would have put millions of U.S. citizens in dire straits, the cuts the parties agreed on were aimed at social programs. There was never any discussion of cutting the bloated military budget. The “budget deal” melodrama resulted in raising the debt limit to, in part, accommodate a bipartisan, ironclad increase in U.S. military spending even as Congress reactionarily cracks down on the poor. The budget deal actually raised military spending 3.5% to $886 billion.
At the same time, the budget deal cut health and social programs to poor and working U.S. Americans. Unused COVID funds, for example, will no longer be earmarked for pandemic prevention, which health officials warn that this would hamper the country in replenishing our vaccine stockpile and essential equipment. It also put greater burdens on those receiving help under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), puts the squeeze back on working Americans who have student loans, and loosens environmental requirements to make it easier for fossil fuel companies to start new projects, further putting everyone’s and the planet’s health at risk.
Like Martin Luther King, Cleveland Peace Action sees “war as an enemy of the poor,” and so CPA calls on our political leaders to prioritize a people-first budget that focuses on the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and for all working Americans. The first priority is for our political leaders to conduct a serious, meaningful debate on the excessive military budget and the diversion of tax dollars that prioritize peace and human development: employment, social programs, education, science, the environment and human welfare.
In his oft-cited farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower warned our nation of the growing influence of the military-industrial complex; the ever-growing influence of munitions companies in the spending priorities of the federal government. While Eisenhower recognized our defense needs, he noted we have to be aware of “ how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.” The “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists” in how we prioritize our spending.