Joining the Poor People Campaign

May 11, 2018

Payday, an international multiracial network of men against war and in support of refuseniks, working with the Global Women’s Strike, fully endorses the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) and agrees that “the problems of our times cannot be tackled separately”.

We are participating in the 40 days of action, and in Pennsylvania we are helping to organize the kickoff event on May 14.  The PPC brings people together in a cross-movement “fusion” coalition, against the “four evils” of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and militarism, and ecological devastation.  Those most impacted are the voices that are front and center in the PPC.

In 1967 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who called forth the first Poor People’s Campaign, identified the war in Vietnam as an enemy of the poor. He had “watched the [poverty] program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war… [drawing] men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube.”  Fifty-one years later, the PPC is as urgent as it was then: out of every dollar in US federal discretionary spending, 53 cents go towards the military, 15 cents on anti-poverty programs.*

● US military and US-financed actions around the world have killed millions, from Afghanistan to Haiti to Honduras to Iraq to Palestine to Syria to Yemen, with women and children the majority of the casualties ● Many millions more have been forced to seek asylum ● An average of 20 US veterans are still dying by suicide each day ● Nearly half of female military personnel sent to Iraq or Afghanistan reported being sexually harassed or raped by their own military ● Domestic violence is 5 times higher among US military families than among civilian families.

Militarism abroad has gone hand in hand with militarization of US borders and of impoverished communities across the US, with rampant killings and other violence by police and prison guards, in particular against those of us who are Black, Native American and Latinx young people and people with disabilities.

The US military is also the world’s single largest polluter, mostly dumped on countries of the Global South, but also large swaths of the US.

It has never been more urgent to find ways to come together, as the PPC is doing, to put an end to these killing policies, in the US and around the world.As Afghanistan war veteran Brock McIntosh said at a PPC mass meeting:

“We need a Poor People’s Campaign to amplify the voices of regular folks above the lobby of militarized industry, a poisoned economy, to demand jobs in industries other than war-making, to demand opportunities for working class folks that don’t require killing other working class folks.”

Payday campaigns against the poverty draft and in support of war refusers in the US, UK, Greece, Israel, Turkey and other countries. We were part of the international campaign which won freedom for trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning.  We organize with prisoners and their supporters (almost always women) in fighting against injustice as well as poverty inside and outside, and we campaign for investing in caring for people and the planet, not for war and mass incarceration. Eric Gjertsen, a member of Payday and family caregiver from Philadelphia, says:

“The Poor People’s Campaign gets it that war and military budgets are the enemy, depriving us of every possibility for our lives and our families’ lives. We want the time and resources to be carers. We refuse to be killers or to be criminalized for resisting poverty and militarism.”

Dean Kendall, a queer subsistence farmer from Berks County PA, another Payday member, says:

“We want to live in a world that values everyone’s contributions, including the critters – plants and animals – and the lands and waters, on which all our lives and happiness depend. This new multiracial movement is bringing together folks in rural communities with urban and suburban folks who are also campaigning for universal healthcare and against the poisoning of our food and water and the air we breathe.”

To contact the Poor People’s Campaign and get involved, including kickoff events on May 14 in over 30 state capitals go to 

* The Poor People’s Campaign’s Souls of Poor Folk

Payday Facebook page:
Refusing to Kill website: