...drew thousands to DC on June 18th to demand a Third Reconstruction Act
Activists from Massachusetts joined a mass rally on June 18th in Washington. The theme recalls Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign and March on Washington in 1968 to gain economic justice for poor people in the United States.
The 2022 march called for a “Third Reconstruction Agenda to Heal the Nation: End Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up.” The best-known co-chair is Bishop William Barber; other central leaders are Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis and Shailly Gupta Barnes.
Thousands of members of the 1199 SEIU union traveled on 70 buses from across the Northeast and were identifiable by their purple shirts. Also speaking were leaders of the United Electrical workers (UE), UNITE HERE, and the North Carolina Public Sector Workers Union.
The prominent union participation signified that this mass movement is not only for poor people in general but specifically for low-wage workers. Many such workers are now organizing and obtaining union contracts. The organizing site, https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/june18/, lists hundreds of endorsing organizations, including the AFL-CIO federation and many union affiliates.
Many of those traveling to DC were young, including a visible contingent from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Religious activists were among those organizing the buses.
Mass incarceration and the money taken from working people to serve war aims, were prominent themes, notably by a CodePink presence with banners and slogans. PPC’s call to action demands “that our government prioritize peace by reducing military spending by at least 10% now and redirecting those resources” toward diplomacy and human needs.
Speakers pointed out repeatedly that 140 million people in the US are in poverty or suffer under crushingly low wages. A third of the workforce earns less than $15 per hour.
The campaign appears to be independent of the two parties. That may be tested by events such as the war in Ukraine and US interventions in Latin America. The campaign was founded by Martin Luther King, Jr. among others, but its foreign-policy statements have been weak. Its focus is clearly to obtain support for the legislation. But the dynamic of mass movements like this is to expose the two parties’ inability to address the needs of working people, including the suffering of the poorest.
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