A New Era of Human Rights
“We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together. And you really can’t get rid of one without getting rid of the others…”
—Martin Luther King, Jr., May 1967
Martin Luther King, Jr., is best known as a civil rights leader, an American icon and hero, but not long before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, he had turned his attention to the intersection of racism, poverty, and militarism. King began focusing on the plight of the poor of all races. With his Poor People’s Campaign, King sought to unite them in a movement that put their lives, their hopes, and their dreams ahead of policies that benefited the wealthy while leaving their communities behind.
King’s vision of bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to demand justice and a better life is more urgent now than ever. Our friend, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, has been described as “the closest person we have to Martin Luther King, Jr., in our midst,” and he is taking up King’s Poor People’s Campaign with the audacious goal of transforming America. And we know he can do it.
Tired of Waiting for a Better Life
King saw how racism and racial injustice were wielded almost as weapons to divide us—but he knew that if we worked together, white and black alike, we could rise up and challenge those in power. He began planning a new march on Washington, DC, one that would “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.” King was killed rallying with poor sanitation workers in Memphis, TN. He didn’t make it to the march, which was held in June 1968. It turned out to be the only big mobilization to take place during his Poor People’s Campaign.
It’s hard to believe, but King was only 39 when he was assassinated. He had accomplished much, but many of his visions were not yet realized. The Poor People’s Campaign was perhaps his great unfinished work. Imagine a world where the poor unite and demand a better life, a better democracy, better schools, better jobs, better opportunities, better treatment. Imagine reaching across all our divides, racial, religious, gender, and speaking as one, calling out for justice.
That’s the world Rev. Barber is trying to build.
We Are Here: A Poor People's Campaign Call for Moral Revival
Last year we attended the inaugural Many Rivers to Cross festival outside of Atlanta and it was an event we’ll never forget. This year, Many Rivers will be coming to Washington, DC as We Are Here: A Poor People's Campaign Call for Moral Revival, and Rev. Barber is using it to launch his Poor People’s Campaign.
It’ll be a night filled with amazing performances from artists like Sweet Honey in the Rock, Aloe Blacc, J.Period, Yara Allen, and Maxwell. And, of course, Rev. Barber will be speaking, which alone is worth the trip. If you’ve never heard him deliver a speech, you need to do whatever you can to get to DC and see him in person—it will change your life. Other activist speakers include Gina Belafonte and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Washington, D.C., Howard Theater
- Monday, December 4th
- Doors open at 6:30 pm
- Reserve your free tickets here!
This Is Only the Beginning of Our Journey
Rev. Barber would be the first to say that he hasn’t built this campaign on his own. He’s been working for years with organizers, activists, and citizens all around the country, touring towns and cities to speak and listen and learn all he can. He has seen in his home state of North Carolina how unchecked corporate greed contributes to impoverishing communities and impoverishing democracy. He’s worked to overturn voter ID laws and overcome prejudice against all vulnerable communities.
Rev. Barber is seeking nothing less than a moral revival in this country, one that will allow us to become the nation our founding documents promised but never succeeded in creating. But we can create it now. We all, working together, can become founders, founders of a new America that honors and celebrates difference, promotes fair opportunity for all, and puts an end to racial and social injustice.
The Poor People’s Campaign is about remaking America. Join us.