Reviving the Heart of our Democracy: The New Poor People’s Campaign

February 9, 2018

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

Bringing Us All Together

When so much in the news is about division and disagreement, we’re inspired by those who work tirelessly every day for unity—by people like Rev. Dr. William J. Barber. In launching a new Poor People’s Campaign, he’s calling for nothing less than a moral, economic, and political revolution and revitalization of American society.

Rev. Barber is among this country’s most inspiring leaders, a true inheritor of Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy. He’s been working for positive change for years in his home state of North Carolina, bringing people together—regardless of background, race, sexual orientation, gender, or political persuasion—to fight for fairness, equality, opportunity, and justice. Now he’s reviving the Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. King’s great unfinished project, and we couldn’t be more excited, because when all of us raise our voices as one, we can and will be heard.


A Movement Built on Love

December 4, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of the day Dr. King—building on the foundation of his civil rights work—announced plans for the Poor People’s Campaign, a nationwide project to combat poverty, improve the lives of all poor people, and enter into a “new era of human rights.” He believed that there had to be a “revolution of values” in America and called on those who had been disenfranchised, discounted, and discouraged to fight against the “triplets of evil”: militarism, racism, and economic injustice.

Dr. King wondered how people go could go hungry, every single day, in the richest nation the world has ever seen. Five decades later, we are still, sadly, asking the same question. But Rev. Barber doesn’t give in to despair. “Love,” he says, “is the greatest power to sustain a fight for what is right.”


We’re Ready for Change

The Women’s March, the People’s Climate March, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock… the list goes on and on. People are motivated and mobilized: they’re standing up and standing together to demand action, to demand justice for all those who have faced injustice for so long.

There’s also a growing realization among those left behind by the economy, held back by systemic racism, or sickened by the polluted environment, that the racial, social, and cultural divisions introduced and exploited by some of our leaders have had just one purpose: to allow the ultra-wealthy to accumulate more wealth and power.

It’s time to put aside our differences and work together for what’s right.


Why We Need a New Poor People’s Campaign

Today, at least 46.5 million Americans live in poverty (including 20% of children), and an additional 97.3 million are officially classified as low-income. That means that about half of all Americans are poor or low-income—and many millions more are one medical crisis or layoff away from joining their ranks. Right now, the top 1% of the country controls almost 40% of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 90% holds only about 23%. And the gap between rich and poor only continues to widen. Decent housing, clean drinking water or air, fair wages, and adequate healthcare remain out of reach for far too many of our friends and neighbors. That is unacceptable. The time to act is now.

But how? “At the center is the idea of uniting poor people across racial and geographic lines,” says Rev. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the campaign. Rev. Barber and Rev. Theoharis know that the key to putting together a coalition of millions starts with listening, and they are traveling the country doing just that: listening and learning from those who have been hit hardest by the economy. Rev. Barber has said that neither he nor any of his fellow organizers lead this movement—they serve it. And because the new campaign grows up from the grassroots, starting in May there will be a season of nonviolent direct action in state capitals (and DC too) all over the US. People will put their bodies on the line in a show of unity and determination. And they’ll keep doing that until America fulfills its promise to every single one of its citizens.

This isn’t a matter of left or right, of Democrat or Republican, according to Rev. Barber. This is about right and wrong, about fundamentally changing the structure of American society and the American economy. “And the only way America has ever challenged this structure is for poor people to unite across the dividing lines in a moral movement to revive the heart of democracy.”


One Sweet World

One of the reasons we love ice cream is because it’s just about impossible to be anything but happy when you’re eating it. That happiness is infectious. It brings people together—ice cream brings people together. As we’re reminded daily, the world needs more of that right now. So while Rev. Barber and his fellow organizers travel the country rallying to put an end to economic injustice, systemic racism, militarism, and the degradation of the environment, we’ll be supporting him every step of the way with a portion of the proceeds from our brand-new flavor, One Sweet World.

We urge you to support the Poor People’s Campaign too. Stand with us, stand with Rev. Barber. With love in our hearts and powered by a commitment to positive change, we can raise our voices together and make sure that every American has a chance to live a better life.