Put People First! PA Leaders Reflect on the Poor People’s Campaign Moral Action Congress (Series)
By Tammy, Lancaster
A lot took place during the three day action in Washington D.C and it took a few days afterwards for everything that took place to really sink in for me. Each day went by fast and with each day that passed I became more connected to the overall movement. I missed the main Poor People’s Campaign rally in D.C last year because I was in Minneapolis doing a workshop for the Healthcare Now national conference so I was extremely grateful that I was able to attend this year’s Moral Action Congress.
On day one we heard from 9 candidates and of course overall consensus, they spoke in a way a politician would. The good that did come from that very long event was we used it to help sway the distorted moral narrative around poverty. The majority of the major media outlets were only there for the first day of the three day event and we all know it was because of the 2020 Presidential candidates being present. So with the media present we were able to get our message to a more broader audience and force the nation to finally talk about poverty in the United States. Now the next steps are to hold the 9 candidates accountable to their promise they would commit to a 2020 Presidential debate about poverty and the interlocking injustices! The best part of day one was the release of the Poor People’s Campaign a National Call for Moral Revival, Moral Budget. (Link to Moral Budget here.)
Day two was absolutely amazing! It was filled with workshops, learning and connecting with others from around the nation. The first workshop I attended was the one about organizing the homeless where I was able to hear more about the great work of the California Homeless Union and others who have organized around homelessness. I’m excited to say that I was able to witness the official kick off of the Committee to Re-Establish the National Union of the Homeless! In the afternoon I was asked to come to the front of the main gathering room to share with the nation why I decided to become a leader in the Pennsylvania Poor People’s Campaign a National Call for Moral Revival, I was very nervous but pushed through the fear because someone out there may have to hear the message, don’t give up, we can fight for a better society, together, you’re not alone. (Link to video footage of my remarks here.)
Later in the afternoon on day two I was able to take part in being on a panel about organizing around Healthcare and Welfare Rights. It was amazing to be able to share with people from across the nation how the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee has been taken action against UPMC for closing our hospital and speaking truth to power. I was able to share with those in attendance how taking action the way we did actually gained us power in the local arena and helped develop more leaders within the HRC. (Link to video footage of the entire workshop here.)
On day three we watched on a large overhead screen the live footage of the hearing before the House Budget Committee where the Poor People’s Campaign had Moral witnesses and presented the Poor People’s Campaign Moral Budget. A part of the panel of witnesses were two Pastor’s on the end who were there on the ask of the powers that be. Our very own Put People First! PA leader Savannah Kinsey was one of the Moral witnesses there with the Poor People’s Campaign a National Call for Moral Revival. ALL of the witnesses did a fantastic job and our Moral Budget was put into record and parts of it were read out loud. After the hearing the witnesses came back and we celebrated our success and began to get hyped about the June 20th 2020 March on Washington D.C. (link to full hearing here) https://youtu.be/83775Wf8sGQ
Three members of the Lancaster Healthcare Rights Committee attended the three day Moral Action Congress and ever since we have been back we jumped right into work. I made connections while in Washington D.C with those who are a part of the Committee of the homeless Union and we are hoping to connect that work here with what we are already doing in Lancaster, PA. Many hopeful possibilities came to light for me over those three days and it helped me solidify my purpose within the movement. It came clear to me when asked during an interview what exactly my purpose is within this movement. I believe I’m here to help grow the movement through base building, developing other leaders through pushing our campaign plan forward and use my love for art & writing to tell our stories, to help sway the distorted moral narrative around poverty while we strive for a Lancaster County Moral Revival!