Dayton Ohio was selected as the only stop in the tri-state area for a national civil rights rally in lead up to a massive march on Washington this June. The movement is a revival of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last campaign aimed at economic justice for all. The Poor People’s Campaign (PPC), as described by its co-chair Rev. Dr. William Barber, is a call for a moral revival.

The PPC reminds us that the opposite of poverty is not wealth – it’s justice. So despite the name, you do not have to be “poor” or low wealth to be part of the movement. However many Americans are poor. A stunning 40% of Americans are at or below the poverty line, which is just $26,000 for a family of 4. That’s 140 million Americans, and many more are a paycheck or catastrophe away from joining them.

Systematic poverty is only one of the 5 interlocking evils that Rev Barber says we have to tackle cohesively if we want to see real change. The interlocking evils of systematic poverty, systematic racism, a war economy, ecological devastation, and the rise of religious nationalism – where religion is used to cloak racism and hatred.

We know first hand here in Dayton how those evils intersect. Because Dayton understands these issues all too well, Rev Barber and his co-chair Liz Theoharis, planned to visit Dayton this month on the “We Must MORE tour.” (More stands for: Mobilize, Organize, Register and Educate). With the coronavirus shutdown, the march and rally have been cancelled. There is now an April 30th online event planned.

The reason for this tour is to bring attention to the plight of the working poor. The goal is to break through the narrative – and make sure politicians hear the campaign’s demands for “federal and state living-wage laws, equity in education, an end to mass incarceration, a single-payer health-care system, and the protection of the right to vote.”

The tour was also a way to register, educate, mobilize and unite voters of all races and religions on this quest for a more perfect union. It’s not impossible to make significant change. As little as 12-15% increase in voter turnout can result in a major political shift. It requires hard work and a sustained movement – but it’s absolutely possible.  

In this episode, our host Libby Ballengee interview Mary Aguilera, one of the three Ohio PPC Co-Chairs about the cancellation of the Dayton event and the transformation of the March on Washington into the largest online rally. What does that look like, and how does the coronavirus expose the economic inequality that the campaign was hoping to shine on a light on? We explore these topics and how you can get involved!

Manray – Money

To sign petition: COVID-19 Emergency Response Demands and Petition

How to RSVP to June online event: June 20, 2020 RSVP form on website

Poor People’s Campaign website:

Join the Dayton group on Facebook:

Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign with Rev. Dr. William Barber on the following podcasts:

20 min Mother Jones Podcast – The first 20 of 30 min of this podcast is a powerful call to action by Rev Barber

60 min Why Is This Happening Podcast – A more in depth conversation w Rev Barber (his family’s ties to MLK, his eduction, history lessons, building a movement.