A march to uphold the legacy of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, by protesting for jobs, racial and economic justice, and against war, is picking up important support. From May 11 to 13, participants from across the country will converge for a 41-mile Poor People’s March from Baltimore to Washington, D.C.
Members of both the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO Unions and the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO have unanimously voted to support the May action.
The growing list of labor endorsers includes the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart); the Food and Commerical Workers Minority Coalition; the Executive Board of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10, located in California’s Bay Area; the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, United Steelworkers Local 8751; the New York Chapter of the National Writers Union, United Auto Workers Local 1981; and the American Federation of School Administrators Local 25.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Jobs and Freedom March and the 45th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. The latter was being organized by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was assassinated in 1968. Yet in 2013, poor and working people face similar issues of poverty, unemployment, racist repression and war — issues foisted upon them by the capitalist economic system.
Demanding people’s power and justice
The organizers of the 2013 action believe that the time is ripe to resuscitate King’s mass movement to demand people’s power and justice.
The march will demand an end to the attempts to close schools, post offices and hospitals across the country, as well as an end to the government’s attacks on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Coming on the heels of national marches on May Day, the People’s Power March will augment demands made on May 1 for worker and immigrant rights. Participants will march to a Walmart superstore in support of the giant corporation’s workers.
The Poor People’s March will also make special demands against the wave of police brutality and police killings across the country. In Baltimore alone, 16 people have been killed by cops since a year ago January, with not a single officer indicted for these crimes.
The action will begin at the site in Baltimore where Anthony Anderson Sr. was killed by police on Sept. 21, 2012. Baltimore parents, friends and family members of slain loved ones will be joined by others from across the U.S., including the family of Alan Blueford in Oakland, Calif., to demand an end to racist police terror. In addition, the march demands an end to the wholesale incarceration of people of color from coast to coast.
The Rude Mechanical Band from the Occupy movement will be participating in the walk, along with students from local and national campuses. Event organizers urge participation of all poor and working people, and are providing accommodations for anyone who cannot walk the entire 41 miles.
The final leg of the march will take place on Mother’s Day, May 12, which is also the actual date that Coretta Scott King led the kickoff of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. Women, including women from OUR Walmart and the mothers of victims of police killings, will lead this final stretch of the march on Washington.
The march will be followed by a People’s Power Assembly in Washington, D.C., on May 13, where community members and activists will convene to discuss and plan the next steps in reclaiming Dr. King’s dream.
The May 11-13 events, conceived of at a National People’s Power Assembly held in Baltimore last December, are being organized by the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly. The national body of the SCLC initiated the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1967.
For more information, visit PeoplesPowerAssemblies.org.