WASHINGTON — Left-leaning religious and civil rights leaders have launched a 30-state campaign they say will "wake the sleeping giant" and mobilize over 15 million poor and low-income voters ahead of the 2024 election.
On Monday, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II led a press conference at The National Press Club alongside his Poor People's Campaign co-chair, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, to announce the details of the new 2024 mobilization campaign.
"We have power; we've got to use it, and the time is now to build the third reconstruction and be a resurrection of power in this moment. There is no turning back," Barber, who pastored Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Goldsboro, North Carolina, from 1993 to 2023, said during the press conference.
"For far too long, extremists have blamed poor people and low-wage people for their plight, while moderates too often have ignored poor people, appealing instead to the so-called middle class," he continued.
The Poor People's Campaign will hold a nationally coordinated day of direct action on March 2 in over 30 state capitals, including Alabama, Texas, Georgia, Illinois and California. The campaign will also hold a rally and a march in the nation's capital on June 15.
As part of the campaign, thousands of volunteers will be trained to engage infrequent voters, with special focus on battleground and Southern states.
Barber, 60, declared it is "time for a resurrection and not an insurrection." The goal, he said, is for the 85 million Americans in the low-income voting bloc to vote.
In a press document, the Poor People's Campaign highlighted the various policy positions it supports, including healthcare for all, affordable housing, a $15 minimum wage and fully-funded public education.
"If we are going to be serious about addressing the problems of low wages, the lack of healthcare, inadequate housing, attacks on education, and more in this impoverished democracy, we as a nation must listen to the demands of the poor," Theoharis said.
During the press conference, multiple individuals who said they are struggling to make ends meet shared their stories and advocated for the changes they'd like to see happen.
Barber reiterated one of the major talking points, stressing that "poverty is the fourth leading cause of death" in the United States. The civil rights leader asserted that this data point cannot be allowed to last without politicians being made aware of it.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Barber said the coordinating committee behind the campaign has around 30 to 40 people helping to sign others up. Religious leaders are included in every coordinating committee, along with leaders from various denominations.
When asked about the reluctance of some religious leaders to bring politics into the Church, Barber argued that they cannot "hesitate to talk about the politics of Jesus."
"The politics of Jesus is good news for the poor — healing to the broken," Barber told CP, noting that Christ called on his followers to serve the least of these.
"We're not telling people to vote for a party," Barber continued. "We're saying you must vote principle. You must examine politicians on where they stand in relationship to the poor, in relationship to the policies that would lift low-wage workers out of poverty."
On the national stage, voters will soon have to decide who to vote for as the president of the United States and other down-ballot races.
"They're going to vote for the person that cares most about their lives," Barber said. "They're going to say: 'Where do you stand on voting rights? Where do you stand on living wage? Where do you stand on health care? Where do you stand on funding public education?'"