Photo Essay Profiles of the Optimistic

The first phase of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival ended Saturday after 40 days of actions. For the final week, people from all corners of the country came together in Washington, D.C., to speak out against injustices in their communities. As in the first six weeks of the campaign, historically marginalized communities were given a platform to share their stories of subjugation and to advocate for change.

Now, for the second phase of the movement, the goal is to educate, register and mobilize voters, and build power in communities from the bottom up.

Despite the devastation and poverty of their pasts, campaign members share a commonality of hope. The members of the campaign believe in their own agency and ability to bring about political and social change. As PPC South Carolina organizer Naomi-Simmons Thorne said, “To me, the correct path is taking bold, radical, transformative policy changes that will transform the systems that we have right now.”

Many members remain cautious and aware of a history of political institutions working against their communities. “I do have questions of the current institutions with the understanding of where they were birthed,” said Jesse Cruz, PPC Indiana organizer.

However, everyone in the movement understands the importance of building coalitions among organizations and communities and then mobilizing.

Truthdig correspondent Michael Nigro was on the ground in Washington to capture the mood of Poor People’s Campaign activists with portraits. Click below to view them.

See all of Truthdig’s Poor People’s Campaign coverage.

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