Erika Alexander, Danny Glover and Wanda Sykes are among the artists, actors and activists adding their voices to the historic digital justice gathering of poor and low-income people that the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will hold on Saturday, June 20th.
Others who have committed their support to the digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, which starts at 10 a.m. Eastern, include Jane Fonda, Vice President Al Gore, Debra Messing and David Oyewolo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film “Selma.”
They will introduce the poor and low-income people whose stories will be the focus of the program. For example, Alexander and Oyewolo will introduce people fighting racist voter suppression and gerrymandering, including Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, who became the namesake for an ACLU lawsuit against a decision to move the only polling location for 13,000 voters in Dodge City to a place outside the town.
Alexander, known for her roles on “The Cosby Show” and “Living Single,” is the producer of “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a documentary about the congressman and civil rights activist that will be released July 3.
“I’m honored to join Reverend Barber and the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington,” Alexander said. “This historic online assembly brings together America’s most undervalued asset — the voices of the poor. Shut out of the national dialogue for decades, they will use their immense power to challenge and reset this nation’s moral compass and to tear down the walls and obstacles that seek to keep them marginalized. It’s a new day and this campaign will bring us all closer to a more perfect union.”
The Poor People’s Campaign lifts up the stories of more than 140 million poor and low-income people who live in the United States, or 43% of the country’s population, even before COVID-19. The campaign is registering people for the movement that votes, knowing that poor and low-income people can change the nation’s political calculus when they cast their ballots.
The moral fusion movement has organizing committees in 43 states that address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism to implement its Moral Agenda, based on years of policy research and budgetary analysis, and to uphold demands on systemic racism.
Glover will introduce several people struggling with systemic poverty, including Mary Jane Shanklin from a farming family in Kansas, who has seen corporate agro-business get bailed out while small farmers are left behind. She and her husband struggle with a lack of health care in a rural area and are witnessing a shocking rate of death from suicide among rural farmers.
Sykes will introduce a section on women and poverty, which includes testimony from Amy Jo Hutchinson, a white mother of two from Wheeling, West Virginia, who has a full-time job and a bachelor’s degree but has said “there’s never a month when two flat tires wouldn’t cripple me.”
Gore and Fonda will introduce those whose lives are damaged by ecological devastation, including Robert Taylor from Reserve, Louisiana. Taylor’s wife is one of the countless people dying from cancer in an area known as Cancer Alley in Louisiana, which has one of the highest concentrations of petrochemical plants in the country and is located in a historically African American community.
Messing will introduce a section on LGBTQ people and poverty, including Savannah Kinsey of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who has written and spoken about struggling to survive on Medicaid and disability and who fights for health care for all.
Religious figures involved in the program include Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and Terri Hord Owens, the first African American woman to serve as the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Several union leaders are participating in the program, including Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants in the CWA; Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU; and Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME.
Also participating is Susan Taylor, the former editor-in-chief of Essence; Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change; Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division from 2014 to 2017; and David Goodman, president of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, named for his brother, who was one of three Civil Rights Movement activists murdered during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Other highlights of the event include:
- Ali Velshi from MSNBC interviews economist Joseph Stiglitz on the cost of inequality and the lie of scarcity.
- Mark Thompson from Sirius Radio interviews economist and public intellectual Juliann Malveaux on race and the economic crisis in the U.S.
- Joy Reid from MSNBC interviews Professor Philip Alston, former UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty.
The live stream can be viewed at june2020.org. In addition, MSNBC will air the assembly and march on some of its platforms, as will other websites. The program will also air at 6 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, June 20th, and 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, June 21st.