John Knox Kirk holds meeting to learn about revival of Poor People’s Campaign
By Kathy Feist
It was 50 years ago in March that black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., went on strike, protesting their $1 a day pay and unsafe work environment. Two workers had just been crushed to death inside a sanitation truck where they sought refuge from the rain. With signs that read “I Am A Man”, workers protested dangerous working conditions, poor benefits, inadequate pay, and a union unrecognized by the city. The peaceful protests soon became violent when the National Guard troops were called in. Martin Luther King, Jr. joined the march on three different occasions. On the third, which occurred April 3, he gave his famous “Been to the Mountaintop” speech. The next day, King would be assassinated at a Memphis hotel.
King had chosen to join the sanitation workers’ strike because of the Poor People’s Campaign created December 4, 1967, by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It addressed the issues of unemployment, housing for the poor, and the impact of poverty on people of all races.
Last December, two ministers, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, a black minister and civil rights leader from North Carolina, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, a white theologian originally from Milwaukee, announced the revival of the Poor People’s Campaign to eradicate the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. Organizers are mounting large protests throughout the country that will take place 40 consecutive days.
One of those organizational meetings in Kansas City will be held at John Knox Presbyterian Kirk, 11430 Wornall Rd, on Sunday, April 29, at 11:15 a.m. Anyone is invited to attend and community groups, congregations and unions are encouraged to get involved.
“It’s a rally cry to get more people involved,” says Cathy Brookaard, member of the congregation. The one hour informational meeting will answer such questions why the movement is happening and what organizations are involved, she said. The meeting will follow Sunday services.
For more information, or to RSVP, call 816-942-3637 or check out this Facebook page.