Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, president and senior lecturer, Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, recently took a hard look at voting rights and suppression, gun violence and other concerns plaguing America, particularly people of color.
During a more than 35-minute discussion, broadcast live over the social media channels of the Black Press of America, the civil rights titans also discussed the upcoming Poor People’s Campaign March on Washington and broke down the current state of Black America.
“This is not a battlefield we can retire from; we’ve got to fight until it’s our time to be over,” Dr. Barber declared.
Low-wage workers, unions, and faith leaders will be among those who join Dr. Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign for an assembly and march on Saturday, June 18, in the District., beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Pennsylvania and Third Avenue.
“We need everyone to challenge this,” Dr. Barber said. “Poor people and those impacted will be the ones on the stage and this will happen in a location between Congress and the White House.”
He has called on President Joe Biden to meet with poor and low-wealth individuals, religious leaders, and economists “to put a face on the 140 million Americans in this country who are poor or low-income while also calling for higher wages and union rights.”
“There are five interlocking injustices we have yet to address in this nation fully,” Dr. Barber said. “They include systemic racism, systemic poverty, where 60.9% percent of Black people are poor and, or low-wealth; 53% of our people make less than a living wage of $15 per hour and 250,000 people die every year from poverty.”
Dr. Barber reported that, during the pandemic, poor people died at a rate of 2 to 5 times higher than others.
“It’s not connected to a lack of vaccinations. It’s connected to a lack of services,” he said. “The pandemic didn’t discriminate, but we did. The Black Press was the first to report this was airborne.”
He added that ecological devastation, the denial of health care and the war economy have contributed to greater poverty in America.
“We are spending 54 cents on the dollar every day on the military,” he said. “If we cut the military budget in half, we’d still have more money in our military than Iran, Iraq, China and North Korea combined. Also, we have the false moral narrative of religious nationalism and white supremacy.”
“We have said that on June 18, it’s time for a declaration of all people. We won’t be silent anymore. We’re calling for a mass poor people, low-wage workers assembly and a moral march on Washington and the polls.”
“We’re doing this to put a face on all these numbers, [share] an agenda, build power and shift this moral narrative because poor people represent 32 percent of the electorate in this country and 45 percent in battleground states.”