‘A National Call for a Moral Revival’

Published 4:12 pm Tuesday, March 27, 2018

National leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival will visit Harlan County on March 29 to hear from eastern Kentuckians. The visit is part of a national tour as the campaign grows in size and gears up for a series of actions later this year to push its message that a moral revival is needed to address the problems of poverty, systemic racism, environmental devastation and the war economy.

The Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis, recognized national leaders, will join an anticipated crowd of about 150 for lunch and community conversation. People from across eastern Kentucky will share stories of their vision for their communities, the challenges they face and the ways people are organizing to make life better for all.

According to poorpeoplescampaign.org, the movement stems from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s like-named campaign he led when he was alive. The history of the movement includes the following:

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“…King and the other leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign asked fundamental questions about the contradictions of their day. Today, many of the groups interested in re-igniting the Poor People’s Campaign are asking similar questions about the problems of inequality, power and class:

‘We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life’s marketplace. But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that’s two-thirds water?’ These are words that must be said.’

King exemplified the clarity, commitment, capability, and connectedness needed to build a movement to end poverty:

‘I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out…This is the way I’m going.’”

Organizers of the national campaign state on the website, “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.”

The event begins at noon and will end at approximately 4 p.m. at the Benham Schoolhouse, 100 Central Ave. in Benham. The event is hosted by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.

The schedule includes a buffet lunch, table conversations, overviews of the national and Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign and ways to be involved in Kentuckians For The Commonwealth and the Kentucky Poor People’s Campaign as well as some next steps. The table conversations are “reflections on how people are taking action to protect what matters and advance justice, particularly in addressing poverty, racism, economic injustice and environmental devastation.”

Seating for the event is limited and registration is requested by visiting https://tinyurl.com/PPCinEasternKY.