The third annual NYS Poor People’s Campaign People’s Assembly may have had an unconventional location this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the message remained the same. The three day online gathering brought together the voices of members and leaders of the NYS Poor People’s Campaign. Time was spent sharing political education, telling stories, building community, working on skills, and planning what is to come next for the NYS Poor People’s Campaign.
The multi-racial and multi-generational gathering representing every part of New York State united online to talk about the moral revolution that we are organizing to bring about. It was clear that people were engaged around their deepest values of right versus wrong as the present crises of our country were presented. Our economy is changing, capitalism is contradictory, the election is nearing, racial injustice persists, and leaders need to be more united. The poor are the leading force of this revolution. The work of the NYS Poor People’s Campaign to ‘unite the poor’ is oriented to the times we are currently in and the times we are about to be in. Through discussion and song, the message was clear that we must increase our collective power and voice.
Opening conversations on Saturday included discussion of the history of White Supremacy - the very history our country was built on. From the beginning , Black people, Indigenous people, and women were excluded from rights. When we talk about confronting and challenging these issues, we must understand that White Supremacy and racial inequality are the enemy of all poor people. White supremacy is the tool the ruling class uses to uphold capitalism by keeping the poor and dispossessed divided.
So, what can we do about this? We must engage in personal interactions where unlearning and relearning can happen.We must build solidarity across these lines of division - for poor and low-income white people and people of color to work together to confront White Supremacy and the economic system that is hurting all of us. Last, we must connect, engage, and check in with ourselves and others. Our communities are suffering. Homelessness, healthcare, and housing are just a few of the issues of this struggling country that were discussed. The work of the NYS Poor People’s Campaign is to orient towards the frontline of the struggle. There has been a shift in society that shows us that the system is failing. Enough is enough and the only way to move forward to unite and fight for what is right. This is a grassroots effort; therefore, the most important aspect is to organize and give people power.
Saturday ended with a powerful mass meeting featuring Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis [WATCH HERE]. This meeting spread the truth: our work must be restorative and transformative. Dr. King founded the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 and it is our role to continue his fight. Through organization and connection, we can get people involved in this movement against injustice in our structures. This is our time and it is truer than ever that we have nothing to lose. As exemplified by Rev. Dr. William Barber, “at the very least there must be resistance, we can not secure any justice without resistance”.
The NYS Poor People’s Campaign People’s Assembly came to a close on Sunday, and the final discussion was crucial. We recognize the urgent need to organize on a state and local level, especially among poor and low-income communities, because they are the ones who hold the power to transform our country. This power can be unleashed if we organize and build unity. As we are nearing Election Day the vote of poor people, people of color, women, Indigenous, and many more must be heard. Together, we can lift each other up through organization. Forward together, not one step back.