The Poor People's Campaign, whose national call is for moral revival, urged President Joe Biden on Monday to meet with low-income earners to discuss a variety of issues on poverty.
Biden Unresponsive On Summit For The Poor
Religion News reported that Biden has not appropriately addressed the requests of the Poor People's Campaign for a summit even though the organization was previously endorsed by the president during the campaign period. The Poor People's Campaign is an organization that considers itself a repairer of the breach on issues of the poor, LGBTQ people, women, immigrants, children, workers, the sick, and communities of color.
Poor People's Campaign Co-Chair Rev. William Barber II raised, as per Common Dreams, that the poor do not get the same audience as corporations do in the White House. Barber spoke during the organization's press conference held at Washington, D.C.'s National City Christian Church. Barber, who preached during the inaugural prayer service of Biden, is a minister of the Disciples of Christ and a pastor of North Carolina's Greenleaf Christian Church.
"It is time for the president to act on his pre-election promise to address poverty. More jobs alone, with a $7.25 per hour federal minimum wage, equal more poverty," Barber said.
The Ohio Capital Journal explained that the meeting with Biden is aimed at a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. The Poor People's Campaign is hoping that the meeting would occur before their June 18 rally. The organization also asked Congress for a separate meeting on the matter.
The increase is twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which has not changed for the last 13 years. Biden has previously called on Congress to implement the $15 increase for those working 40 hours a week but his party's attempts to push it have repeatedly failed. This was after the president's executive order for federal contractors to receive a $15 minimum wage.
Research has shown that the proposed increase in hourly rates would be a little above the poverty lines for a family of four when computed annually. The federal poverty line annual income is $27,750 and the proposed increase would arrive at an annual income of $31,000.
Barber underscored during the press conference that 40 million Americans are living in poverty and are the same people who experience the consequences of the recent inflation hikes.
"What we cannot do is be silent anymore," Barber emphasized.
Barber admitted that Biden's lack of response on the matter bothered him. He disclosed that a few weeks ago White House Officials responded that they are "going to work" on the meeting, which the organization has been requesting since September. The organization even published a copy of the letter but Biden's response to it is still pending. Barber said he is pushing aside thoughts that the president's lack of response is a "personality battle."
A Faith-Led Advocacy Group's March For The Poor
The June 18 rally, the Episcopal News Service said, is entitled the "Moral March" and intends to advocate for 14 policy priorities including the $15/hour minimum wage. The other priorities include universal health care, strengthening of voting rights, and guaranteed housing, among others. The Moral March is said to be the last in a series of rallies scheduled by the organization on the issue.
The Episcopal Church announced its participation in the Moral March in part of its "ecumenical initiative advocating economic justice for poor and marginalized Americans." The church said they have accepted the invitation of the Poor People's Campaign to gather and march for nearly half of the country's citizens that have been ignored in their "moral, economic, and political crisis."
The Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Rev. Michael Curry reiterated their support of the Poor People's Campaign's initiatives for the poor through a message read by Rev. Melanie Mullen in Monday's press conference.
During the press conference, Union for Reform Judaism Senior Vice President Rabbi Jonah Pesner demanded Biden heed the call to meet with the poor.
"We join the call to President Biden and his administration with a demand: to meet with those whose voices need to be heard," Pesner said.