Over 100 people from all over the state of Texas, as well as a few from neighboring states, met on the steps of the Capitol building in Austin June 11 o bring a list of demands to their State Representatives as part of the Poor People’s Campaign national revival. Organizations rallying together in solidarity under this banner included Fight for $15, SEIU (Service Employees International Union), and the American Federation of Teachers.
The list of demands were delivered to the offices of 31 Texas Senate District Representatives, 150 Texas House Representatives, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Governor Greg Abbott for the next Texas Legislative Session set to begin in January of 2019. Among the demands listed were a living wage for all workers, the right for workers to unionize, affordable housing and an end to the gutting of social welfare programs like SNAP.
The Poor People’s Campaign was originally started in 1968 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to combat what he called the “three evils” of racism, poverty and war. Half a century later, many Texans are proudly picking up this banner and continuing his mission to build a more just world, free of white supremacist hatred, violence, economic exploitation and the atrocities of imperialist war. But, King’s vision was about more than just treating symptoms, he believed that we must address the system itself that not only allows such evils to occur, but depends for its very existence on their continual occurrence.
King wrote in his book Where Do We Go From Here: “Depressed living standards for Negroes are not simply the consequence of neglect. Nor can they be explained by the myth of the Negro’s innate incapacities, or by the more sophisticated rationalization of his acquired infirmities (family disorganization, poor education, etc.). They are a structural part of the economic system in the United States.”
In the same book, he wrote: “One day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’… When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy.”
That is exactly what many all across the nation are finding themselves doing — questioning the very nature of the capitalist system itself. The Poor People’s Campaign is playing a vital role in this
conversation and all progressive and revolutionary people should fully support them in this struggle.
“Forward together! Not one step back!”