April 4, 1968, the day Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, is a significant date to be remembered. On that date this year, Bishop William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival held a press conference at the National Press Club to show how extreme disparities are and have been in poor communities nationwide.
These communities consist of African-Americans, and his report shows how they have been and continue to be hit disproportionately by COVID-19.
The Mass Poor People’s & Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls will be held on June 18, 2022, will be attended by all generations, and it will be a transformative and disruptive gathering of poor and low-wealth people, state leaders, faith communities, moral allies, unions, and partnering organizations.
It is a declaration that we won’t be silent anymore, a declaration of an ongoing, nonviolent, truth-telling multi-racial, multi-generational, interfaith moral movement that’s been building for three years.
We are a moral fusion movement with a complete Third Reconstruction agenda that has 45 state coordinating committees, over 2,000 clergies who lead congregations, economists, voting rights lawyers and advocates, and 200 partners that reach millions of people.
Mobilizing was key to the First Reconstruction in the 19th century. As a prelude to the Progressive Era and the New Deal, Coxey’s Army (1894) and Bonus Marchers (1932) assembled in Washington, D.C., to put a face on the issue of poverty that was being ignored by elected leaders. You are invited.
A report to connect COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. to both poverty and race was released April 4 at the National Press Club in D.C. by the Poor People’s Campaign and a team of world-renowned economists, researchers and experts.
The unprecedented findings of the “Poor People’s Pandemic Digital Report and Intersectional” were released by the Poor People’s Campaign and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Barber, the campaign’s co-chair, said:
“On the 54th anniversary of the murder of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when he was pleading with the nation to address poverty, racism and militarism, it is shameful that we have 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this nation.”
“Even in a global pandemic, there hasn’t been a systematic assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on poor and low-income communities. COVID-19 data collection does not include data on poverty, income, or occupation, alongside race and pandemic outcomes.
“The Poor People’s Pandemic Digital Report and Intersectional Analysis addresses this knowledge gap and exposes the unnecessary deaths by mapping community characteristics and connecting them with COVID-19 outcomes.
“The findings of this report reveal neglect and sometimes intentional decisions to not focus on the poor. The neglect of poor and low-wealth people in this country during a pandemic is immoral, shocking and unjust, especially in light of the trillions of dollars that profit-driven entities received.
“It is further evidence why we must have a Mass Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls on June 18 as a declaration that our movement will intensify and embolden our agitation for this nation to have a third reconstruction that fully addressed poverty, racism, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare, and the war economy.
“We must shift the moral narrative; we must put a face on this human abuse; and we must build power and refuse to be silent anymore.”
Included are findings from a total sweep of over 3,000 counties which includes data on COVID-19 deaths, income, race and other characteristics.
“This analysis compares US counties from the poorest 10% to the richest 10% and shows that, overall, the poorest counties have grieved nearly two times the losses of wealthiest counties,” said Shailly Gupta Barnes, policy director for the PPC:NCMR. “During the deadliest waves of the pandemic (winter 2020-2021 and Omicron) death rates were even higher – four and a half and three times as high – in the poorest counties. This cannot be explained by vaccination status. Over half of the population in these counties have received their second vaccine shot, but uninsured rates are twice as high.”
During the news conference, a cohort of economists, researchers and experts revealed the interactive map and dashboard, where researchers, policymakers, and everyday people explored this data in real time.
Community members from some of the poorest and hardest-hit counties were among the speakers, including Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, national co-chair of campaign.
“The COVID-19 disparities among counties across the U.S. are striking. This report shows clearly that COVID-19 became a ‘poor people’s pandemic,'” Theoharis said. “We can no longer ignore the reality of poverty and dismiss its root causes as the problems of individual people or communities. There has been systemic failure to address poverty in this country and poor communities have borne the consequences not only in this pandemic, but for “years and generations before. However, this does not need to continue. Our nation has the resources to fully address poverty and low wealth from the bottom up.”
Lyndia Grant is a speaker/writer living in the D.C. area. Her radio show, “Think on These Things,” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on 1340 AM (WYCB), a Radio One station. To reach Grant, visit her website, www.lyndiagrant.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 240-602-6295. Follow her on Twitter @LyndiaGrant and on Facebook.