Four buses carrying people from Charlotte and other nearby areas of the Carolinas headed for DC and the Mass Poor People’s and Low Wage Worker’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington June 18.
Among those was a chartered bus from the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a national Charlotte-based organization dedicated to helping and serving the needs of trans individuals, people of color, elders, youth, LGBTQ and faith communities.
Over 20 LGBTQ representatives from the Freedom Center rode on the chartered bus, along with a marching drum corps known as Alternatives and some 60 other individuals from Charlotte.
A crowd reportedly numbering in the thousands attended, although no specific attendance number has yet to be reported.
The goal of the March and Assembly on Washington is to draw nationwide attention to the 140 million poor and low income people in the United States. That includes 43 percent of the country’s entire population and 52 percent of children in the country. An estimated 250,000 people in the country die from poverty and inequality related issues every year.
Bishop Tonyia Rawls, founder and Executive Director at the Freedom Center for Social Justice travelled to Washington, and spoke directly to the crowd.
“In 1968 they arrested Bayard Rustin, an out gay black man who stood near this very spot as a silent architect of the March on Washington led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Today we stand here and say we won’t be silent anymore.
“LGBTQ people are a part of every community that is represented here today. We will not ask permission for that which is ours as citizens of the community, members of the human family and children of God.
“LGBTQ people [are] being asked to stand together and we will do that until victory is won for all. When we stand together, there is not one step backwards.”
While various media reports have indicated turnout was lower than hoped for, Cameron Pruitt, FCSJ Director of Faith Organizing, still felt as though the event was a success.
“[Poverty] impacts people from all 50 states,” said Pruitt. “There was such a broad spectrum of people there,” he explained. “Trans people, ministers, union members, airline employees, people of different faiths and [they] were able to share their stories. The event was one of the most truly intersectional political moments I’ve ever seen, uplifting the unique … struggles of marginalized people across the country. It was a very intersectional experience.”
Pruitt observed the event was exceptionally diverse, and several reports confirmed about 50 percent of the crowd was a mix of BIPOC individuals and the other 50 percent a variety of individuals of various Caucasian cultures.
The Poor People’s campaign pledges to return to Washington in September this year to join with 5,000 poor and low income people and religious leaders, along with 100 economists in a non-violent moral direct action effort for the next step of the campaign.
Among the organization’s demands are a White House Poverty Summit with President Biden and a call on all economically challenged people to vote to affect impacting and positive change on American democracy in a way that will produce positive outcome for those coping with poverty.
Reverend William Barber II, a minister and co-chair of the Poor People’s campaign was a keynote speaker at the event.
“This level of poverty and greed, in this, the richest nation in the history of the world, constitutes a moral crisis and a fundamental failure of the policies of greed.
“The regressive policies, which produce 140 million poor and low wealth people are not benign, he said. They are forms of policy murder.”