East Arkansas Poor People's Campaign plans to tackle morality at regional meeting
Ever since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. first annoounced the creation of the Poor People's Campagin at the 1967 Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the orgainzation has worked to bring awarness to a variety of systemic issues.
Some of those issues include systemic poverty, racisim, fair housing, immigrants rights, wage increases, and much more. The East Arkansas Regional Poor Peoople's Campaign works with the state-wide chapter in Little Rock to fight for those same issues in the state.
Members of the East Arkansas Regional organization joined the rest of the Arkansas delegation to travel to Washington D.C. over the Summer to participate in the National Moral Action Congress. It was a chance to give input on creating the U.S. spending budget and for the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates to meet voters.
The East Arkansas Region is preparing for a regional meeting on Saturday, September 21 from 10 A.M. to noon at the First Presbyterian Church in Jonesboro. Organizing leader of the East Arkansas Regional Poor People's Campaign, Rev. C. W. Campbell spoke to KASU's Brandon Tabor about the event and his trip with the Arkansas delegation to Washington D.C.
More information about the meeting can be found by contacting Rev. Campbell at 870-206-5191 or at email@example.com.
BRANDON TABOR, HOST:
Reverend CW Campbell is the organizing leader of the East Arkansas Regional Poor People's campaign. The group advocates for justice in a variety of issues, including systemic poverty, fair housing, immigrant’s rights, minimum wage increases, and so much more. Reverend Campbell went with Arkansas’ delegation to Washington DC over the summer to their National Moral Action Congress. The regional chapter is also preparing for a meeting later this month among a lot of other initiatives. He joins me here in the studio. Thank you very much.
CW CAMPBELL: Glad to be here.
TABOR: All right. For people who may not be too familiar with the Poor People's campaign, could you give a little bit of a background about the organization?
CAMPBELL: Yes, I can, but I do want to say first of all to your listeners that the 1968 Poor People's Campaign that was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King through SCLC (the Sourthern Christian Leadership Conference) is a continuation. A continuation of the struggle for civil rights that really began with the Continental Congress because if you notice we have a US Constitution, but that was not approved until they added 10 Amendments. And so the question that comes to one’s mind: why were those amendments added as opposed to them being articles? And it's because some of the delegates who were there recognize that too much power was being concentrated into the hands of those who had land and money, because even if you were a white man, and it is not in the Constitution, even if you were a white man, but you didn't own any property, guess what? You couldn't vote. You couldn't vote. So this issue has been around a very very long time and that's why I come. It's important for every person who is of age to use their vote because that is their voice.
TABOR: You, along with 11 others from Arkansas, went to Washington DC to represent the state at the National Moral Action Congress. What was it like to go?
CAMPBELL: Well, it was amazing. First of all, I was grateful, and I am a man of faith so I don't mind using words such as God, and thank you, and all of that sort of thing, but the Lord allowed me to go to that tremendous event where they were only expecting 800 people. 1,400 plus people showed up and they were from 40 States including Hawaii, which is quite a ways from Washington DC, as well as Alaska. And I had an opportunity for the first time in my life! I saw many of the presidential candidates who are running for the Democratic nomination including Joe Biden. I saw him in person. Bernie Sanders in person. Elizabeth Warren and a host of others. And so those were things that I'm very grateful for in addition to a moral budget. A budget that is based on morality and not on interest groups was presented to the Congressional Budget Committee and to my knowledge that has never happened before in the history of this nation; that they would allow a non-profit to come and make recommendations about how the US budget should be arranged.
TABOR: And I wanted to ask a little bit about the presidential candidates. You had a chance to talk to them a little bit. Did they present anything that you felt aligned with what the Poor People Campaign is working towards? Did they say anything that aligned to that?
CAMPBELL: I would say some did. However, in the second presidential debate you heard many of the same issues. They were bringing them up. And so what the Poor People's campaign is concerned with, it resonates already in the country because, in effect, that is how the Poor People's campaign organized its agenda based on the concerns and interests of those at the bottom, not necessarily those who are already at the top.
TABOR: And what were some of the concerns, going back to the budget that you were talking about earlier, what were some of the concerns that the Poor People's campaign wanted to make sure that was in that budget?
CAMPBELL: Well the biggest item of when it comes to discretionary dollars, for every one dollar, 53 cents goes to the military industrial complex. Well, we already got enough weapons. Well, what do we need more weapons for? 53% out of every discretionary dollar! And only 15 cents---15 cents goes to housing, healthcare, and education. And that's why we don't have any money, because the money is going to the war industrial complex to create the weapons that they going to retire in 20 years and create some more weapons. They never intend to use them but people are making money off them and that does not include the middle class nor the poor.
TABOR: Okay. So you're trying to see if that money, instead of putting it towards the military, it goes, trickles down a little bit further to the population into the community.
CAMPBELL: No, we don't want to use the word trickle down at all.
CAMPBELL: We want the money to go.
TABOR: You want it to go.
CAMPBELL: You always need it, and we're not suggesting that you don't do anything for military defense. What we're saying is how about giving maybe 10 more cents, or even 15 cents, because that would double what the three items health, education, and housing would receive, that would be double. So I think that that would be a tremendous boom in terms of all the people who are struggling now with three jobs trying to make ends meet, and all of that is by design. None of that is by accident. Industries, businesses, they all meet and they decide collectively when they're going to increase wages. They also collectively decide when they're going to increase prices, and if you look at stores today, and grocery stores today, and whatever, you will see that the prices have already increased. Because they're saying, well, if we got to pay $15, we better increase it now so we can recoup some of that additional money. So it's by design, it's by design. Everything is by design.
TABOR: Okay. I wanted to get into a little bit about the upcoming regional meeting. Could you talk a little bit about what people would expect if they attend the regional meeting?
CAMPBELL: Well, what they can expect is to be inspired by truth. Not by falsehoods, but by truth. And we will be meeting on Saturday, September the 21st at the First Presbyterian Church located at 710 Southwest Drive in Jonesboro, Arkansas. And what we will have is the---not president---but he is the chair of the Arkansas coordinating, or should I say, the Arkansas Poor People's Campaign, Solomon Burchfield, who will travel all the way from Fayetteville just to meet with the folk here, and he is our keynote speaker, and after he makes his presentation, we will open up for questions and they will receive answers from the person who is seeking to lead us even higher.
TABOR: And as the event free or…?
CAMPBELL: Oh, yes, it is free. And let me add, the second portion of the event is the partners that we have. Some of them include First Presbyterian, St. Mark's Episcopal, Miller’s Temple Church of God in Christ, Moms Demand Action, as well as a number of other churches and organizations that we are in communication with right now. Each partner will have five minutes to talk about what they are doing here in this region in trying to address some of these issues. So as I said, we are about bottom up as opposed to top down because if you hear from the folks who are hurting you will know more so of how to resolve the issues.
TABOR: I also understand that the, that you're trying to work on starting a Poor People's Campaign chapter here at A-State. What's inspiring you to create that chapter here on campus?
CAMPBELL: Well student activism is already alive and well at A-State. There are various organizations out of the 150 plus registered student organizations on campus that are already doing things, and we would love for some of those organizations to partner with us and make presentations before the body so that they can hear what they're doing locally. And that's the entire purpose of the second portion of the program is to hear what is going on in A-State, at A-State, in the community, and also in the region.
TABOR: I want to ask one more question. Some people may not know about the Poor People's Campaign East Arkansas Regional Chapter. What are some of the things that your group have done for residents here in Eastern Arkansas considering that this is one of the hardest hit areas with some of the issues that the campaign is fighting for.
CAMPBELL: Presently, the campaign concentrates on legislation, and Little Rock at the state capitol. Various legislations as it relates to prisons, as it relates to education, as it relates to all of these other issues that we mention, because even as we went before Congress, we're also going before state legislatures, and of course county legislative bodies, because policies have to change. The policies are immoral. Immorality is legal, if it is approved by whichever committee. But what we want is to help people to recognize that laws and policies that are moral in nature will be far more benefit to everyone.
TABOR: Okay. Rev. CW Campbell is the organizing leader of the East Arkansas Regional Poor People's Campaign. Thank you so much for your time.
CAMPBELL: Thank you.