On Saturday, June 29, the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC), led by Rev. William Barber II, assembled a gathering at the mall in Washington, DC. The “Moral March on Washington and to the Polls” event gave voice to the needs of over 135 million people in poverty and low-wage jobs, leading to this fall’s presidential elections.

In addition to jazz and gospel music, the event featured speakers calling for a government responsive to the needs of the marginalized and forgotten.

Rev. Barber opened his remarks by reminding the crowd that “the last image that most Americans have of this capitol behind us was of a violent mob attacking it to undermine democracy.” He went on to say that, in contrast, the Moral March had gathered as “an army of love” and that they didn’t “need to be an insurrection” but were, instead, “a resurrection.”

He labeled the millions of impoverished and low-wage workers in America as the ultimate “swing vote” that could determine the outcome of the election. He said that “there will be no democracy worth saving if it doesn’t lift the lives of poor and low-wage workers.”

After urging Americans not to be satisfied with conditions that allow widespread poverty, Barber turned his attention to the Presidential election in an apparent nod to Joe Biden’s recent debate performance. He said it is “not time for foolishness” and that “we can’t get stuck arguing about which candidate performs better on tv” or “on who touched what prostitute or porn star.”

Barber then included a litany of biblical and historical figures who had overcome challenges to lead: “In my tradition, Moses stuttered, but he brought down Pharoah. Jeremiah had depression, but he stood for justice. Jesus was acquainted with sorrow. Harriet Tubman had epilepsy.”

Barber, who has a degenerative spine disease that affects his mobility, added, “Folk are getting caught up on how a candidate walks. Well, let me tell you, I have trouble walking, but I know how to walk toward justice.”

Several other religious leaders representing mainline churches and denominations spoke in support of the PPC’s 17-point agenda, which calls for the abolition of poverty, healthcare for all, and a ceasefire in Gaza.

The complete agenda and a recording of the event can be viewed here.

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