Poor People’s Campaign denied access to governor, legislators

Published 4:47 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

On Tuesday, a delegation with the Alabama Poor People’s Campaign was blocked from the offices of Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, Alabama Senate Pro Tempore Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Alabama Speaker of the House Rep. Mac McCutcheon, R-Huntsville, according to campaign member Rev. Carolyn Foster.

“We wondered if it was because we are part of a national movement advocating on the side of the poor,” Foster said. “We were told it was a security matter.”

Foster said the delegation had come to the Alabama State House and State Capital to deliver letters to state leaders which detailed the plight of Alabama’s poverty-stricken citizens and called on them to take action.

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“We have a number of concerns,” Foster said, noting that a large number of Alabamians, many women and children, are currently living below the federal poverty line. “We don’t hear issues of poverty being raised by our legislators.”

Foster also noted the perilous situation endured by citizens in Lowndes County, where raw sewage leaks into people’s houses, and the decision by the legislature to undermine Birmingham’s decision to raise its minimum wage in 2016.

The delegation with the Alabama Poor People’s Campaign arrived in Montgomery Tuesday morning, the first day of the 2019 legislative session, for a press conference on the steps of the state house.

During the press conference, people from around the state gave testimonies on their struggles living in poverty – a veteran struggling to access healthcare and others facing voting rights issues and other difficulties.

At the end of the press conference, the delegation began delivering its letters to Alabama lawmakers.

Foster said representatives in the offices of Ainsworth, Marsh and McCutcheon only allowed three members to enter the reception area of their offices while the remainder of the delegation lined the hallway.

A representative in Ivey’s office informed them they would not be able to meet with the governor.

“The fact that we were not allowed to meet with our elected officials, who are there to represent us, is appalling,” Foster said. “They don’t want to hear it. It keeps poor people invisible and our calling, we feel, is to make them known and seen and heard.”

The campaign held a hearing Monday in Montgomery and invited every member of the state legislature to attend – none showed up, according to Foster.

The Poor People’s Campaign was an effort originally organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Cristian Leadership Council in 1968 to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States.

To learn more about the organization and its efforts, visit www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.