About 500 people gathered at the United Presbyterian Church in downtown Binghamton Tuesday night for what they call a revival of Dr. Martin Luther King’s campaign for the rights of poor people.
The national group heading up the new Poor People’s Campaign is organizing people in a fifteen cities across the US, including Binghamton.
Multiple faith leaders rallied attendees, talking about what they see as systemic injustices – including cash bail for jail, strict rules on voting, and a lack of a living wage.
“It is systemic poverty. It’s policies put in place put in place to keep people where we are,” said Rebecca Kindig, associate pastor at United Presbyterian. Her group already hosts community meals once a week and makes a point to employ people who can’t find work elsewhere.
“It’s frustrating and maddening and the more we learn about it, the more frustrated we are and something has to be done.”
Shirey Archie lives in Albany, but came down for the meeting. He said he’s been advocating against racism.
“I’ve been standing on a corner with a sign that says ‘stand against racism,'” Archie said. “I’ve been standing with that sign for about three years.”
“I don’t want to stand forever on that corner with the same sign,” he added. “I need to be more actively involved. I need to see some results. I don’t know how to make that happen. I hope that the Poor People’s Campaign might be that thing that will have an impact.”
Next spring, the Poor People’s Campaign is calling for 40 days of civil disobedience. Archie said he’s not sure he’s willing to go to jail. He said, as a black man, going to jail is different than it is for a white person.
Wednesday though, the Poor People’s Campaign is holding several talks about power – who has it and who doesn’t.