Faith leaders in Ohio and other states are hopeful a massive action this weekend will be seen as a light in times of darkness.
The Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington Digital Justice Gathering on June 20 will unite participants against racism, war, poverty and ecological devastation.
Mary Aguilera, co-chair of the Ohio Poor People's Campaign, says they are calling for a moral agenda that isn't about the right versus the left — but rather right versus wrong, and lifting the voices of the 140 million lower-income Americans.
"Over 40% of this country was already low-income and poor," says Aguilera. "And then you add this pandemic, and then you add the racial issues on top of that, and kind of a perfect storm is happening."
Members of 16 religious denominations, 14 national unions, and dozens of civil rights groups will be part of the Digital Justice Gathering. The event will be broadcast online at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, June 20, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 21.
The demands of the Poor People's Moral Agenda cover seven areas: democracy and equal protection under the law; domestic tranquility; peace and the common defense; life and health; the planet; the future; and an equitable economy.
Aguilera says some require immediate action, including paid sick leave for all workers, free COVID-19 testing, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, debt forgiveness, and expanded voting opportunities.
"After June 20th, we are going to be focusing on these demands that are critical during this pandemic and national crisis," says Aguilera. "There's certain demands that were left out of the disaster relief bills."
According to the Poor People's Campaign, roughly one in three Ohioans is poor or low-income. And from 1979 to 2012, income for the top 1% of earners rose by 103%, while income fell 5% for the rest of the population.