Movement Demands Sweeping Overhaul of Nation’s Voting Rights Laws

Jefferson City, Missouri— Pointing to the moral crises evident in the Statehouse and the governor’s mansion, the Missouri Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, kicked off a six-week season of nonviolent direct action on Monday in Jefferson City, demanding a massive overhaul of the nation’s voting rights laws, new programs to lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty, immediate attention to ecological devastation and measures to curb militarism and the war economy. Historic waves of arrests are expected throughout the period of protest.

The rally and nonviolent civil disobedience on Monday in Missouri is one of over 30 actions across the country. Building on the work of the original Poor People’s Campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 50 years ago, low-wage workers, union members, disenfranchised voters, clergy and community organizations, among many others, will engage in 40 days of nonviolent direct action and voter mobilization as a movement aimed at transforming the nation’s political, economic and moral structures.

“The moral crisis in America is the result of extreme laws and oppressive policies that violate human dignity,” said the Rev. Rodney Williams, pastor of Swope Parkway United Christian Church and president of the Kansas City NAACP. “Legislators all across America seem to have forgotten the words of the prophet Isaiah, who condemned unjust laws that, ‘deprive the poor of their rights.’ That is why we have organized the Poor People’s Campaign and are fighting to restore the moral compass that the civil rights movement brought to bear 50 years ago.”

Monday’s protest focus on poverty. The demonstrations are expected to expand over the next six weeks to address problems such as systemic racism, environmental degradation and workers’ rights. The movement will place special emphasis on the Legislature’s votes to preempt minimum wage increases, roll back civil rights protections, restrict voting, and undermine unions.
At the conclusion of the 40 days on June 23, poor people, clergy and advocates from Missouri and coast to coast will gather for a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. They’ll then return to their states to continue building the campaign, a multi-year effort.

The Poor People’s Campaign