In 1968, the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) was first named as a key concern of Friends in America. American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Associate Executive Secretary, Stephen Cary, remarked that the PPC “…has made poverty in America visible, and never again will it be possible to pretend that it is not real.”
52 years later, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) recognizes that we need to work together as a community to continue to make poverty and all the injustices that contribute to it more visible. As part of that process, PYM’s Quaker Life Council recently minuted an endorsement of the PPC, as has PYM’s Young Adult Friends community, Trenton Meeting of Friends and Haddonfield Quarter. PYM has also offered youth programming (described later in this story) around this initiative and will continue to support the community’s energy on addressing the causes and consequences of poverty in America today.
Quaker Life Council (QLC) Minute
Given the historical connection that Quakers have had to the Poor People’s Campaign and the continued need for a moral call toward economic, racial and environmental justice in the United States, Quaker Life Council endorses the 2020 Poor People’s Campaign on behalf of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. It encourages PYM monthly meetings to do the same. To find out more about the 2020 Poor People’s Campaign, visit http://poorpeoplescampaign.org/.
Young Adult Friends (YAF) Minute
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Young Adult Friends support the 2020 Poor People’s Campaign: a National Call for Moral Revival (PPC). There are several principles of the campaign that speak to us. We realize that there is a right way and a wrong way to lead in religious communities, we know what side we’re on and we are excited to shift the moral narrative promoted by the religious right. We agree and recognize that everyone has the right to live a life, not in economic and environmental turmoil, but equitable communities. We are in the spirit of realizing the Peaceable Kingdom is here on Earth, and by supporting the PPC, we keep the choice to stand in solidarity with communities and to keep our morals.
Both the QLC and the YAF community have been inviting monthly meetings to endorse the campaign. Trenton Meeting of Friends has posted an endorsement on its website, and the Long Range Vision Committee of Haddonfield Quarter passed a minute in support of the Poor People’s Campaign this June.
Marjorie Rubin, the clerk of Haddonfield Quarter, shared their minute:
On May 26, 2020, the Long Range Vision Committee of Haddonfield Quarter (NJ) minuted its support for the Poor People’s Campaign, noting the campaign’s efforts to address systemic racism, poverty and inequality, ecological devastation, and the war economy and militarism. The Campaign also challenges the use of moral justifications in support of anti-poor policies, calling for five principles embedded in the US Constitution including Establishing Justice, Ensuring Domestic Tranquility, Providing for the Common Defense, Promoting the General Welfare and Securing the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
The Long Range Vision Committee also encourages monthly meetings within the Quarter to adopt their own minutes of support for the Campaign.
PYM Youth Programs’ work with Sophia Burns on the PPC
As part of its partnership with AFSC on this issue, our Middle School Friends and Young Friends recently hosted Sophia Burns, a fellow at American Friends Service Committee working on the PA Poor People’s Campaign. Sophia led workshops on how the PPC struggle relates to youth, their lives, and their home communities. As part of the programs, PYM youth were invited to organize their own friends and families to attend a virtual June 20th Moral March on Washington.
The PYM community has embraced this work with a sense of spiritual commitment to the well-being of all people. We’ll be bringing representation to actions occurring in Philadelphia and will work with American Friends Service Committee staff to support local community organizing efforts around the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) as opportunities arise.
Information on the campaign:
The Fundamental Principles of the PPC
Moral Agenda, the goals of the movement
A Call for a Moral Revival – TED Talk, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis at TEDWomen 2018