Sunday, January 18, 2015
It seems most fitting to mark this year's celebration of Martin Luther King by announcing that there will be a Global March for the Homeless taking place on April 15th, 2015.
Martin Luther King's assassination took place just at the start of his Poor People's Campaign, which called for housing and guaranteed income for the very poorest people in the United States.In his words: "There is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this other America, thousands and thousands of people, men in particular walk the streets in search for jobs that do not exist."
Our political and financial and cultural elite's collective response to those remarks? 'Sorry Mister King, you can talk about race, you can talk about war, but Good Good Almighty, you may not talk about the poor -- not in in our America!
'Here's what we'll do, Reverend. First we'll Martyr you, then Canonize you, and in time that will make everyone forget all this talk about the dreadful plight of poor people in America.'
Boy, did that work?!
When is the last time you heard a major political leader in America talk openly, not dismissively, about poverty and homeless in America. If you said never, you get an 'A'.
Since King made that speech, the federal government has slashed the housing budget by 74 percent, eroded public assistance and, if you take in consideration inflation, cut wages. King would be horrified to learn that today, every major city in the United States has thousands of men, women and children, wandering around with no place to call home.
So if our politicians don't even want to talk about poverty in America, let alone do something about it -- besides make it worse -- then let's stop banging on that beat drum.
By re-framing the issue of poverty and homelessness -- as Martin King was trying to do before his untimely death -- as moral agendas, as the civil and human rights issues of our time:
ECONOMIC SECURITY AND AFFORDABLE HOUSING ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.
This will be the theme of our March and our unequivocal demand. Poverty and homelessness will no longer be negotiable items on the table for politicians to play with when they feel like it. As with other social issues that became human rights issues -- civil rights, woman rights, LGBT rights -- the politicians will get on board after the fact and try to appear as if they were righteous all along.
Fine, let them play their game, but let us not be fooled into thinking any of them will be leaders on this issue. There's going to have to be a worldwide grassroots movement to end poverty and homelessness. And it starts on April 15th, 2015.
Please join us!