The Poor People's Campaign: Big Finish at the Capital (Live Blog)
After six weeks of events around the nation, this phase of the Poor People’s Campaign culminated, fittingly, in a major rally at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Thousands converged for Saturday’s big finish, including activists and key organizers from the ongoing effort to obtain justice for the America’s poor and to pursue the goals of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who created the original blueprint for the campaign against poverty, war and income inequality more than half a century ago.
As Truthdig correspondents Michael Nigro and Clara Romeo reported from the scene at our nation’s capital, another common theme was emerging from the day’s array of speeches and activities: This effort is just getting started. Read along as coverage comes in from the rally over the course of the day.
3:03 p.m. EDT: Poor People’s Campaign supporters line up and get moving for one last march together. Clara Romeo’s parting glances are arranged in the gallery below; stay tuned for Michael Nigro’s dispatches from the scene. Big thanks to our correspondents and to Truthdig readers and supporters who followed along and contributed funds to make this project possible. We couldn’t have done this without your help.
2:24 p.m. EDT: Actor Danny Glover lent his voice to Saturday’s proceedings, offering another forward-looking message in his commentary. “The movement does not just sit right here in this moment,” he said from the main stage. “I know you’re here today, you’re here tomorrow, and you’ll be here until we win.”
Notably, coverage by mainstream news sources of the Poor People’s Campaign picked up considerably for the culminating gathering in Washington, D.C., as this piece by Vox, this one by The Washington Post and this one from NBC illustrate. As many readers know, Truthdig correspondent Michael Nigro has been on the ground reporting and shooting photos and video footage beginning with the campaign’s kickoff. Check out some of his memorable and insightful stories and images here, here and here.
1:04 p.m. EDT: The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. William Barber came on strong in their speeches. Jackson looked ahead to the midterm elections as he urged those gathered, as well as Americans tuning in from afar, to get out the vote this year. “We have the power to take our nation back. Trump has his day, but we will remember in November,” he said.
Barber called out the country’s political leadership “when they claim they have Jesus’ agenda but they don’t do what Jesus said.” By contrast, Barber indicated that the Poor People’s Campaign can serve as a corrective to politicians’ failings. “We will stand in the depth,” he said. “Stand so we can save this country from a spiritual, economic and political death.”
12:34 p.m. EDT: Scenes and color from the rally—in the first photo, the Rev. Liz Theoharis takes the podium at a multifaith gathering and tells the congregation “We are standing up … to restore our community, to make life livable again.” (Photos by Clara Romeo.)
12:09 p.m. EDT: The main stage on 7th Street SW in Washington is the site of many of the day’s headlining speeches, including those by Poor People’s Campaign organizers such as the Revs. Liz Theoharis and William Barber. Theoharis got right to the heart of the matter, telling the audience, “We are building a Poor People’s Campaign because we need one.” Watch below as she lays out some of the campaign’s main goals for the future:
11:30 a.m. EDT: Organizers released this description of Saturday’s rally and how it ties into ongoing efforts in coming months:
Thousands of participants in the Poor People’s Campaign, who have spent the last six weeks engaging in nonviolent direct action from coast to coast to challenge the the policy violence against children and families being promulgated by the Trump administration and Congress, will converge in Washington, D.C. Saturday for a massive rally and march on the U.S. Capitol.
The protest Saturday will kick off the next phase in a campaign that has reignited the movement started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many others 50 years ago.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a key figure in the 1968 campaign, and actor/activist Danny Glover will join campaign co-chairs the Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis alongside poor and disenfranchised people from 40 states to lead the march on the Capitol. The protest comes nearly 50 years to the day after tens of thousands of participants in the original Poor People’s Campaign held a Solidarity Day Rally for Jobs, Peace, and Freedom in Washington.
Following the march, participants in the campaign will return to their states, where they’ll begin a Freedom Summer-style campaign to educate, register and mobilize voters and build power in their communities from the bottom up.