Poor People’s Campaign rally to be held at First Baptist
By Oniska Blevins | The Selma Times-Journal
On Dec. 4, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made a public announcement on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s decision to organize the Poor People’s Campaign.
“The Southern Christian Leadership Conference will lead waves of the nation’s poor and disinherited to Washington, D.C., next spring to demand redress for their grievances by the United States Government and to secure at least jobs for income for all,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his official public statement.
However, because of his untimely assassination, he never got a chance to see the campaign through. King was assassinated in Memphis four months later, and after his death, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy continued to move forward with King’s plan.
Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, said the current Poor People’s Campaign is not a commemoration of what Dr. King and others were trying to do.
“There are these roots and these connections,” Theoharis said. “This is a new initiative in that poor people today have said that even if King hadn’t initiated a Poor People’s Campaign several years ago we would still need a Poor People’s Campaign for today.”
As part of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, a rally for the campaign will be held at First Baptist Church, located at 709 Martin Luther King St., Friday at 7 p.m.
Dr. William Barber, co-chair of the campaign, and Dr. Cornel West, along with others will be panelists for the rally.
“We will be at First Baptist Church doing a panel and symposium on the connection between voting rights and why we need a Poor People’s Campaign,” Theoharis said. “On Sunday we will be marching across the bridge.”
After the march, some of the marchers will be walking backwards to symbolize the reversal they feel is happening with voting rights in America.
“We can’t celebrate and commemorate the blood that was shed for people to win voting rights when those same rights are being taken from people on a massive level,” Theoharris said.
The campaign is also collaborating with the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise and visiting Fort Deposit in Lowndes County to meet residents dealing with insufficient wastewater treatment.
Catherine Flowers, executive director and founder of Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise, said there is a sanitation issue.
“In Lowndes County and places throughout the Black Belt a lot of people are dealing with failing infrastructures or no infrastructure at all as it relates to sewage,” Flowers said.
According to Theoharis, the campaign will shed light on this issue in Lowndes County and speak with families that are being directly affected.
Flowers said there needs to be more than marching done to combat these issues and get policies changed. She said voting and getting involved in writing policies is a good start to seeing real change.