In an enduring bid to end poverty and low wages, local members of the New York State Poor People’s Campaign plan to demand that area congressional representatives embrace the Third Reconstruction Resolution.
On June 7—called Moral Monday by the PPC—events will be held statewide and around the nation, asking lawmakers to support the resolution. In Rochester, NYSPPC supporters will be at 100 State St. near Rep. Joe Morelle’s office for a rally at noon.
“We are going to be doing a press rally and introducing the Third Reconstruction Resolution and calling on him to sign on it,” says Sabine Adler, regional coordinator for NYSPPC, who expects up to 30 people to attend the event. “And then we’re going to have a little march around the area downtown.”
The resolution, drafted by progressive leaders and lawmakers including Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., draws on the history of the first Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Second Reconstruction of civil rights struggles.
The Third Reconstruction, according to the PPC, is a revival of a constitutional commitment to establish justice, provide for general welfare, end decades of austerity, and recognize that policies that center on the 140 million people living in poverty or with low wages before the COVID-19 pandemic are also good economic policies that can heal and transform the nation.
The resolution calls for a restructuring of society, reckoning with systemic racism, addressing health care access, voting rights, poverty and other issues. At its core, the resolution seeks to rework inequitable systems that often hurt the poor.
“The Third Reconstruction is about confronting policies and practices that produce death, whether from police killings, poverty, lack of health care, ecological devastation or unnecessary war. It is, in short, a declaration that unnecessary death is intolerable and that democracy is still possible,” reads a New York Times op-ed by William Barber II, co-chair of the PPC, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of “Revolution of Values: Reclaiming Public Faith for the Common Good.”
The resolution includes proposed economic policies—with a focus on eradicating poverty and economic and racial inequalities—such as universal health care, a higher minimum wage to a living wage, a federal jobs program and the right to organize. Other proposals include comprehensive and just immigration reform, guaranteeing native and indigenous rights, and expanding voting rights.
The PPC: A National Call for Moral Revival, whose roots lie with Martin Luther King Jr., was revived roughly three years ago. The movement has grown since its launch in 2018 with a series of rallies and actions to building a mass poor people’s movement in more than 40 states. In 2019, hundreds of community leaders convened in Washington, D.C., with a goal to do M.O.R.E—Mobilize, Organize, Register and Educate. Efforts continued last year, calling on more affected people to join in and speak up.
Next Monday’s event in Rochester, which will also feature testimonies of lived experiences, is building up to a National Poor People’s and Low-Wage Workers Assembly, a hybrid event—online and in-personal—in Raleigh, N.C. on June 21. Following that, the PPC will launch a year-long campaign toward a Moral March on Washington and another assembly on June 18, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
“Our main goal is to really demonstrate our power and keep building our movement,” Adler says. “We want to show people that change is possible, but we do have to organize to get that. So, our main goal is to get more people into the movement and show people who we are and just keep building our power, regardless (of whether) our representatives are going to get with us or not.”
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.