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Poor People's Campaign Puts Leaders Nationwide "On Notice"

Groups like Chaplain on the Harbor will be in Renton on Saturday recruiting for this year's Poor People's Campaign. (Poor People's Campaign)
Groups like Chaplain on the Harbor will be in Renton on Saturday recruiting for this year's Poor People's Campaign. (Poor People's Campaign)
February 9, 2018

RENTON, Wash. – In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. launched the Poor People's Campaign. A half-century later, the campaign is still going – and this week, its organizers held events at state capitols calling for a "moral revival" across the country.

On Saturday, groups including Chaplains on the Harbor will host an event in Renton to get Washingtonians ready for 40 days of action this spring. Aaron Scott, national steering committee member and Washington state coordinator for the Poor People's Campaign, thinks the movement is needed now more than ever – and organizers are letting state political leaders know.

"We're putting you on notice for your failure to address the core issues of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation,” says Scott. “Heads up. We're starting out polite, but we're going to get rowdier in the spring, in terms of mass, coordinated civil disobedience along these moral issues."

The 40 days of action will start on Mother's Day, May 13.

In December, the Poor People's Campaign released a report measuring how the country is doing on these issues compared to the year the campaign first launched. Scott says it found, in many respects, the nation is doing worse than in 1968.

The call for a moral revival is key to the campaign – and Scott notes that a small slice of the ultra-conservative right has dominated the framing of what is "moral" in recent decades, using issues like sexuality, abortion, and prayer in school.

The Poor People's Campaign wants to reclaim the country's moral framing, which Scott sees as a nonpartisan issue – and says the movement plans to reach out to those most in need.

"We're not about organizing 'liberals' versus 'conservatives,' or organizing the left to fight the right,” says Scott. “We're organizing the bottom. We're organizing directly impacted. That is a much bigger base than just targeting left or right."

Scott adds it is an interfaith movement, including those who follow no organized religion.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA