Friday, April 2, 2010

Historic March Begins With Easter Demonstration for Public Housing

This Sunday, the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, the national Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign will launch a March To Fulfill the Dream. They seek to build a movement to end poverty, and they demand guaranteed healthcare and housing for everyone in the US. They will be spending the next three months marching across the US to raise awareness and build alliances in this struggle. The march begins here in New Orleans on Sunday at 5:00pm at 3800 St. Bernard, and on June 20 they will arrive in Detroit for the US Social Forum.

The Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign has been working locally with Survivors Village, a grassroots housing rights organization. Endesha Jukali of Survivors Village writes:
Survivors Village is sponsoring a Right To Return Rally in St. Bernard which is also meant to show support and give a good send off for Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign and their allies who will be in New Orleans for the march/caravan. I know that it is asking a lot of some people to alter the plans that they normally make on Easter Sunday and come to a political event. That’s why I am hoping those of us who work for social justice everyday will be the nucleus of the rally.

Recently Pam Nath of Mennonite Central Committee wrote a letter urging Christians to follow in the path of Jesus and support the poor and the oppressed on this most holy of days in that faith. I am appealing to those of you who may not be Christians, but have admired the works of people like Martin Luther King and other social justice martyrs.

It is no coincidence that King’s move towards economic justice and opposition to the waste of resources and human life brought about by war immediately preceded his death. These were crucial and volatile issues then, and we are up against the same forces and the same issues today. Considering the sacrifices of those who went before us, giving up some time on Sunday, should not seem a terrible burden.

I am sure looking at the way things are in New Orleans, the U.S., and the world, MLK would preach his Easter sermon and then stand against poverty and oppression. Those of us who admire such a great man should emulate him. Do what you have to do on Sunday and then come and support PPEHRC as they start on their journey.
Housing activist Pam Nath writes:
When I think of Jesus’ life, I think of his first public proclamation of what his life was all about: “to bring good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives…recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4: 16-21). I think of how he “hung out” with poor folks and others who the society of the day saw as undesirables (the kind of folks that many folks might want to clear from their neighborhood or city if given the chance to create a “new” New Orleans) (cf: Mark 13: 41-44; Luke 7: 36-49; Mark 5: 24-34; Mark 1: 40-43; John 4: 1-27). I think of his saying “You cannot serve both God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24), telling the rich man to sell all that he had and give it to the poor (Matt 19: 16-24), and claiming that we would be judged by how we respond to the poor (Luke 17: 19-31). I think of him overturning the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple just a few days before he was killed (Matt 21: 12-18).
And Minister Kojo Livingston writes the following words in the most recent issue of Louisiana Weekly:
I personally believe that if Jesus were here in the flesh today, he would be spending a lot of time in jail for putting his foot in the behinds of religious and political leaders. If he saw the foul things that political and business leaders have done in the wake of Katrina, he would go straight off. There is nothing that the moneychangers in the temple did that was more profane than what the powers-that-be have done to the Black and the poor in New Orleans and Louisiana. Jesus was always down with the downtrodden and he would not be sitting around just yakin’ about how bad it was.
We'll see you on Sunday!

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