Project 2018 – A Poor People’s Call to Action

Project 2018 – A Poor People’s Call to Action

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”

Rev Martin Luther King Jnr (1963)

The Quest for Peace and Justice were the first words uttered by Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jnr as part of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech given on 11th December 1964. Dr King’s lifelong quest has become our unfinished business agenda. The task of seeking justice, exposing poverty and confronting war and conflict is still a quest worth pursuing as part of our common humanity and shared future together. It is not true that things cannot change, they can! If we have a collective conviction of action and hope, then together we can transform the political environment to bring about the change needed to ensure peace and justice is secured for all people.

A shared vision of justice embodies a sustained hope that poverty eradication is possible and is an achievement worth striving for. Hope is not just a time bound concept, it’s also a love bound concept that requires an analysis of the realities, a definition of what is wrong, and clarity of what needs to be changed.  We cannot get away from the injustice, the inequalities, the poverty, the conflicts and wars by ignoring them, or delegating them to corporate or political institutions to play out power games. Dr King’s lifelong vision, work and campaigns pursued justice and equality for all.  His Christian faith compelled him to express and affirm a common humanity, which united all people on earth, irrespective of religion, race or culture that might separate us from each other in one human family. Every human struggle endured encourages us to change attitudes and behaviours, leading us towards transformation of ourselves and of the world.

Our world has never been more prosperous, and, at the same time, more inequitable than it is today. Inequality has reached a level that we can no longer afford to ignore. People who have been submerged into poverty, driven into overwhelming debt, marginalised, and displaced are crying out with a greater sense of urgency and clarity than before. The global community must recognise the need for all of us to join hands together to do justice in the face of unparalleled and catastrophic inequalities in the distribution of wealth.

Therefore, we call out the fatal intertwining of the global financial, socio-economic, climate and ecological crises accompanied in many places of the world by the suffering of people and their struggle for a decent life. We call out market deregulation and unrestrained privatisation of goods and services that exploit whole societies and dismantle social programs and services. We call out uncontrolled financial flows that destabilise the economies of an increasing number of countries all over the world. We will not accept this as a ‘norm’ in 2017, that is why through the Project 2018 campaign we are renewing our call for Dr King’s vision embodied in the ‘Economic Bill of Rights’.

Project 2018 proposes the internationalising of the 1968 Poor People’s campaign with the first of 5 global mobilisations over the coming decade 2018-2028 linking USA social justice movements with other social justice movements around the world. This is the time for a global call out of governments, institutions, big corporations and business. 2018 – the 50-year anniversary of the life and work left by Dr King presents us with an opportunity to join hands, voices and actions together in our shared quest for peace and justice.

Find out more

  1. Dr King on capitalism, in his own words
  2. About the original PPC 1967/68
  3. About PPC for today
  4. About an Economic Bill of Rights for today

 

An Economic Bill of Rights for 21st Century: the Universal Basic Income

An Economic Bill of Rights for 21st Century

In the summer of 1967, King announced what was to be the most expansively radical adventure of his life – a national movement called the Poor People’s Campaign, mobilizing Black, White, Hispanic, Native American. It was to demand an annual $30bn federal investment to deliver full employment, guaranteed annual income, 300,000 units of low cost housing per year.

Tragically, Dr. King was assassinated on 4th April 1968, and the April 16 edition of USA Look magazine carried a posthumous article from King titled “Showdown for Nonviolence” — his last statement on the Poor People’s Campaign. The article warns of imminent social collapse and suggests that the Campaign presents government with what may be its last opportunity to achieve peaceful change — through an Economic Bill of Rights. Three weeks after Dr King’s death, the Committee of 100 — set up to lobby on behalf of the campaign – called for just this – an economic bill of rights with five planks to deliver economic justice.

  1. A meaningful job at a living wage
  2. A secure and adequate income for all those unable to find or do a job
  3. Access to land for economic uses:
  4. Access to capital for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses:
  5. Ability for ordinary people to play a truly significant role in the government

Despite the intervening decades since the Poor People’s Campaign, it is true to say that Dr King would recognise the same issues today as he faced then – inequality, corporate power, racism and militarism. Now, we have other factors that also need to be incorporated – climate change, the total capture and consolidation of political power by the financial and business class; the globalisation of the neo-liberal agenda (north and south alike). So, it is imperative for our renewed Economic Bill of Rights to reflect this.

Among the big ideas, the one that will be integral for us to solve the first 2 demands of the 1968 Economic Bill of Rights in the 21st century is the universal basic income. Continue reading

Harry Belafonte remembers ‘I Have a Dream’

Harry Belafonte, “Martin Luther King: Harry Belafonte remembers ‘I Have a Dream’,” The Observer, 11 August 2013

There is one thing I have to say about the speech, though, and I say it when I am called on to speak about Dr King to students all over America. I tell them: you need to study the whole speech because the text before the “I Have a Dream” part is a deeper reflection of what he was striving for. The details and the passion of the struggle are spelt out in the preceding passages.

The spirit that Dr King called forth was a profoundly American spirit, as was his struggle. What made me feel so good about that struggle was that it was ordinary people who were becoming empowered through his words, to realise their own possibilities.
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MLK’s vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever

Glenn Greenwald, “MLK’s vehement condemnations of US militarism are more relevant than ever,” The Guardian, 21 January 2013

The civil right achievements of Martin Luther King are quite justly the focus of the annual birthday commemoration of his legacy. But it is remarkable, as I’ve noted before on this holiday, how completely his vehement anti-war advocacy is ignored when commemorating his life (just as his economic views are). By King’s own description, his work against US violence and militarism, not only in Vietnam but generally, was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.
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