The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is calling for a National Day of Fasting and Focus on Monday to call Americans to repent of systemic racism and turn toward the work of building a more just and loving society for all people.
Bishop William J. Barber II, campaign co-chair and president of Repairers of the Breach, said the campaign seeks not merely a fasting from food, but also a national fasting from systemic racism, systemic poverty, the denial of health care and from other death-dealing policies.
“We must dedicate ourselves to breathing life into our Constitution and its promises and refuse to accept a civility that covers up injustice,” Bishop Barber said. “The very life of our democracy is at stake. Not the democracy that is, but the democracy that could be.”
The upheaval in the country has shown the power of social justice movements, said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
“People across race, across geography, across age have seen that we cannot be silent anymore,” she said. “It is only when the people organize in radical and bold ways that we can build a society that actually takes care of the needs of the people.”
The campaign is asking people to stand still wherever they are at 5 p.m. , Monday, June 7, and be still and focus for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that an officer held his knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing him on Memorial Day. They will then be asked to read a litany that the campaign will share on social media.
After that, Rev. Barber will speak to the nation from Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where he is the minister.
People should also remember Ahmaud Abery, who was shot and killed by armed white men as he jogged in Georgia in February and Breonna Taylor, who died in March after she was shot eight times by police who used a battering ram to invade her apartment. As a sign that our collective repentance is real, people will also be invited to dedicate themselves to stay engaged, to vote, to hold elected officials accountable and to work for a moral agenda that addresses historic wrongs and policies that perpetuate inequality.
On Sunday, June 6, the campaign will hold a national interfaith service to recognize the more than 100,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19, especially poor and low-income workers. While President Trump wants to divert attention away from the pandemic and to his misinterpretation of protests in the streets, the Poor People’s Campaign will insist that the country doesn’t forget those who died.
The service will be co-led by Revs. Barber and Theoharis and Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Imam Omar Suleiman and Valerie Kaur.