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Abby MacDonald

I recently became involved in the PPC and was immediately amazed. I had never been involved or even heard of an organization before that was so intersectional and inclusive in its approach and goals. For the first time, I saw an organization that was truly dedicated to uniting the poor across the country. I think that the PPC resonated in particular with me given that I grew up very poor. I always felt as though I had little power to change my and my family’s life situation. So, I felt like I connected strongly to the PPC’s goals and overall movement. 

Soon after I became a member, I began exploring the history of the PPC more and learned more about its connection to Martin Luther King. I began listening to King’s speeches about the three interlocking evils, the War on Vietnam, the connections between racial and economic justice, and a radical redistribution of wealth. I thought they were so powerful and could not believe I had never heard before about this part of his legacy. I was really inspired by the King’s and the PPC’s reconceptualization of poverty as there is a stigma around poverty and many people have a very narrow idea in their heads about what poverty looks like. Whereas King and the PPC talk about the poor as being “dispossessed” and “having little or nothing to lose.” Many people who would not traditionally think of themselves as poor are included in the PPC's understanding of the poor. I think that this new conceptualization is very empowering, as it means that we all have a larger community to band around and we have real power. 

I also appreciated the PPC’s strategy around leadership development where it is possible for anyone to become a leader, no matter their age, and they can continue to help create new leaders. I think that this was powerful entering into an organization as a young person and feeling an immediate sense of mutual respect and community. Additionally, I loved the experience of entering into a space with people of all ages as the PPC is an intergenerational coalition. This is something I have not been a part of before and I was able to learn a lot listening to everyone.

Despite the challenges of organizing during the pandemic, I have found it helpful to focus on the positive opportunities made possible. I think that although the pandemic has been restricted in many ways, I think that organizing in digital spaces has grown and been very valuable. Furthermore, the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the current inequalities apparent in the United States, and therefore offers the potential for radical change. 

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