Posts tagged with "poverty"

ICM Virtual Fundraising Banquet

International Care Ministries’ Virtual Fundraising Banquet

Raises US$1.72 million for the Ultra-poor in the Philippines

ICM’s Banquet Proved to be “More than a Dream” as it Exceeded Expectations

International Care Ministries (ICM), a non-profit organization that brings transformation to the ultra-poor, held their annual fundraising banquet in Hong Kong to resounding success. The internationally streamed gala, entitled “More than a Dream” raised HK$13.3 million or US$1.72 million, exceeding the amount raised the year before.

In a normal year, ICM’s much anticipated banquet gathers hundreds of Hong Kong’s top executives. But, with COVID-19 putting restrictions on in-person events, ICM’s 2020 banquet went virtual, streaming live from Hong Kong to the world.. The silver lining of online gatherings is that they are open to all; 1600 well-dressed guests from 16 countries participated, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Uganda, and Guatemala. 

With restrictions easing slightly in Hong Kong in early October, several hundred guests were also able to gather at the Aberdeen Marina Club (AMC) to watch the live stream together. In compliance with strict social distancing protocols in Hong Kong, the four-person tables were socially distanced and spread out over multiple rooms within the venue. 

The program, broadcast live from a closed room in the AMC, included the highlights that introduced ICM’s work to those who are only learning about it for the first time—but long-time ICM supporters have come to look forward to every year.

“In the midst of crisis, heroes are everywhere.”

ICM’s CEO David Sutherland began his keynote by acknowledging the impact of the virus on ICM’s many plans for 2020 such as opening a dozen new locations across the Philippines and launching ICM’s first international expansion in Uganda. Just as the pandemic had done across the world, it forced ICM to put aside those plans in the face of a more urgent need as ICM pivoted from development to relief operations almost overnight. 

“For the first time in 30 years, the world is going on the wrong direction in the fight against poverty,” Sutherland said.  The World Bank predicted that an extra 150 million people will fall into poverty because of the pandemic.” ICM’s focus is on the ultra-poor and this has been a devastating year for them. Under lockdowns, many had no work, which meant no money, and no food.

Through personal stories, Sutherland showed the need for the people ICM has been reaching. ICM has identified five million specific Filipinos who were in serious need, and has delivered goods to four million so far. Among other relief goods, ICM has distributed 14 million meals, over 200 million seeds, gave two months’ worth of ready-to-eat-food to 18,000 children suffering from malnutrition.

“We are well aware that virtual is much less engaging than live,” Sutherland admitted. “But the poor can’t wait until we gather again. There is more need now than ever before, and we can’t bring solutions without you. So today we are going to ask you to continue your faithfulness, even when we are virtual.”

A Big Moment of Giving

The silent-auction was also conducted online through OpenHeart’s silent auction and pledge system. Registered guests made their bids on beautiful Filipino and international artwork, jewelry, unique travel packages, and experiences. Despite not being able to include travel prizes this year, the auction still raised HK$1.3 million or over US$166,000.

The Moment of Giving, one of the most thrilling highlights of every ICM banquet was, as before, presided over by US national champion auctioneer Kristine Duininck, who logged on from her home in Minnesota. While she was unable to fly to Hong Kong for this year’s banquet, Duininck’s passion and energy was felt around the world. With her encouragement, donors pledged as much as HK$800,000 online, instantly acknowledged and thanked by Duininck as their bidder numbers flashed on screen. 

The pledges made in these few minutes poured in from all over the world, leaving guests at the AMC and online awestruck by the extravagant display of generosity. Twenty-five donors pledged to give HK$80,000 (US$10,000), and their gifts will be “double-matched” by Find Us Faithful, which unlocks HK$3.9 million (US$500,000) of matching funds. 

The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced people to keep their distance from each other, but this shared global experience has brought humanity closer. In a year of great need, many have risen to the occasion to help their fellow human beings, be it to someone as close as a neighbor or to as far as a family living in ultra-poverty on the other side of the world. ICM’s first-ever virtual fundraising banquet was a testament to that. 

The amount raised that evening surpassed expectations. The banquet has provided ICM with 20% of the funds needed to meet its annual budget, and reach hundreds of thousands of people living in ultra-poverty. “Our team will need to build on this fantastic start during the remainder of our year,” Sutherland said.

ICM’s work continues as the world transitions to the new normal.

To donate and to learn more about ICM’s work, please log on towww.caremin.com

For videos from the event, you can watch them all on YouTube: 

Countdown Show: https://youtu.be/5JWpTnSJI9I

Banquet: https://youtu.be/MT-0mByKkG4

More than a dream song: https://youtu.be/CKefXqviEsc

Kamala Harris illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Win With Black Women

Back in 2016, while campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald Trump asked black voters, “What do you have to lose?”

He asked in reference to generations of oppression, violence and inequality, saying, “You’re living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. 58% of your youth is unemployed.”

The obvious implication is that things couldn’t possibly get worse for black voters, and Trump thought he had a chance to be the solution to the problem.

Well, in Sept. 2020, it seems that President Trump has his answer, and it comes in the form of a letter penned by Win With Black Women and co-signed by over 1,000 black female leaders.

The letter opens with a direct response to the question posed by Trump.

“Our answer, evidenced by increasingly poor economic outcomes, high racial tensions and hate incidents, the coronavirus, and an overall lack of dignity and respect in the White House, is a lot. And for Black women in particular, it’s too much,” the letter said.

It went on to discuss “sycophantic rhetoric” at the RNC that would lead watchers to believe that black life in America is in a healthier place now than it was prior to Trump’s election. Furthermore, the letter said that rhetoric insisted that anyone challenging that notion was brainwashed.

To refute the points set forth at the RNC, the letter cited the State of Black America, saying black households bring in 41% less than white households, and 60% of the black population lives below the poverty line. The letter also said that black unemployment is double the percentage of white unemployment.

The letter covered the cause of the recent protests throughout the country, saying, “Our lives are in constant threat under your Administration. If you are Black in America, you are three times more likely to be shot by the police,” going on to name Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Jacob Blake as evidence that justice has gone unserved.

It also mentioned that black people are dying disproportionally from COVID-19 while black women, specifically, “lag behind in life expectancy, and maternal and infant mortality.”

Win With Black Women finished by saying that they will fight against attacks on Kamala Harris and proposed a call to action.

“We call on voters, no matter their background, to join us in setting the record straight and to reject your distracting antics, lies and attacks. We call on you and the GOP to focus on the crises afflicting the American people and not to insult every American with petty diversions, outright lies, and by sweeping problems under the rug.  We call on voters to stand in solidarity with Black women and reject your derogatory sexist, racist rhetoric aimed at undermining our credibility, our character, and our achievements,” the letter said.

Before closing the letter, Win With Black Women said they “vow to continue to uplift the issues most important to our families and our communities, keep our eyes and ears open, and to work to restore what is true, just, and decent to this election and to this monumental time in history.”

Win With Black Women has published the letter on Change.org, asking signees of the petition to stand with them in unity. To sign the letter and to see a complete list of co-signing leaders, you can click right here.

Gabrielle Marchan illustrates Dianne Morales for 360 MAGAZINE

Dianne Morales

As of late, one of our team members had the opportunity to sit down with New York City mayoral candidate Dianne Morales for an interview. After eight years under Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City will see someone new in the position in 2021, and Morales, a member of the Democratic Party, is jumping at the opportunity.

360: What are the major points of inspiration throughout your life, so far, that have led you to where you are today?

Morales: At my core is a commitment to community, and I learned community at home. I am the youngest of three girls and the daughter of Puerto Rican parents. My mother, a secretary for the Leather Workers’ Union, and my father, a building manager on the waterfront, created a working-class life for us in Bed-Stuy. But our home was not just for me and my sisters. My grandmother, Mami, lived with us my whole childhood. In fact, she and I shared a bed until the day that I left home for college. Our home was a resting place, a layover, a transition point for whoever needed it. There was always someone new sleeping on the couch or joining us at the dinner table. Whether they had just arrived from Puerto Rico, were in between jobs, had just returned from the military or from being incarcerated, there were always other people staying with us while they “got back on their feet.” My parents opened their arms and their front door to whoever needed it. I never questioned this way of life. I was taught, “If you have, then you provide.” We took care of each other. I saw, firsthand, the opportunity created when we each take responsibility, not just for ourselves, but for our neighbors and for our communities. This belief has spurred me on through 30 years in the public sector, as an educator, a foster care worker and a leader of nonprofits.

As I established my own home in Bed-Stuy as a single mom, my children and I recreated the dynamic my parents had built. We always have a few extra people living in our home – whom we often refer to as our “chosen family.” These extended family members have filled my home with love and reciprocal support. In a twist of fate, since the pandemic hit, I have shared my home with my parents and my children. I envision a New York City where we take care of each other, where everyone is welcome to the dinner table, where neighbors provide more support than extra sugar and all of us have a warm place to rest our heads. Although NYC is vast with diversity, we are all inextricably bound together and are only as strong as our most vulnerable link.

360: How can a mayor, as opposed to any other civic official, lead unique positive changes for equity?

Morales: Over the past several months there is a mantra I have been repeating consistently: a budget is a reflection of our values. The mayor has executive power over what gets funded in the city and by how much. Funding for services that contribute to true public safety (access to housing, medical/mental healthcare, economic stability, job training, education) will provide access and opportunity to those who have historically been left behind by our elected officials. Line by line, the budget reveals the values of a city and government. The NYC budget passed in June was a failure. It failed the residents of NYC, who have been raising their voices in protest and demanding a divestment from law enforcement since May 29. It failed those whose lives have been lost at the hands of the NYPD. It failed communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by violence and brutality.

The budget highlights the need for NYC leadership to put New Yorkers first by investing in communities. The NYC Mayor also has the ability to work to desegregate public schools and impact the quality of education provided to over 1.1 million students, many of whom are students of color living in poverty. This alters the course of a student’s life and provides an entry point to economic mobility and a true career trajectory. New Yorkers deserve a bold, transformational leader who is unapologetically committed to prioritizing justice in the budget’s bottom line. I fundamentally believe that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution. Our city needs a mayor that is in tune with her people and provides a vision for and direction for what is possible.

360: What are some of the most pressing or urgent issues that need attention within New York City, and how would you address them?

Morales: New York’s problems all stem from structural oppression by Race, Gender and Class, so our solutions must go deeper, all the way to the root causes. Too many New Yorkers are living in a time of scarcity, and that’s been going on since long before the virus hit. The are working two jobs, just barely surviving and always one misfortune away from losing everything. Instead of this “Scarcity Economy,” we need a “Solidarity Economy,” and that requires bold action. First, transforming public safety in the city by providing access to the same critical resources found in wealthy communities will be a critical step toward creating the long-term change we need for all to live in dignity. True public safety includes ensuring that every New Yorker has access to “life essentials,” like quality transportation, affordable housing, excellent and equal education and human-centered healthcare. All New Yorkers deserve access to these fundamental resources in order to live in dignity, and it is the necessary floor needed to break through glass ceilings.

Next, we must enhance and overhaul vital infrastructure requiring multi-part, creative solutions that address the deeper issues embedded in the fabric of NYC. To break the racist cycle of poverty that divides our city into the “haves” and the “have-nots,” we will establish a guaranteed minimum income. We will push for universal healthcare and eliminate inequities in the health system faced by women, and especially women of color. We will work to address the persistent segregation of our schools and disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by replacing school safety officers with trained mental health professionals. The driving force behind all policy initiatives is the experiences, needs and voices of women of color. Particularly, Black women. As the Combahee River Collective wisely wrote in its 1977 statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” We know that if New York does right by Black women, the entire city will be better for it.

360: How can you use your personal experiences with serving as a single mother and observing the many other challenges that face New York City residents to enact policy reform?

Morales: So many of New York’s problems have impacted me directly, and so much of who I am and what I know comes from being a mom. My greatest joy is being the mother of my two children, Ben and Gabby. They constantly push me, teach me and nourish me. As a single parent, I share experiences with hundreds of thousands of other New Yorkers. A 2018 study found that single-parent households are the second largest household type in New York City. I navigated New York City’s systems – economic, health and education – on my own. I balanced a budget for my family each month, figuring out how to make it work. My greatest challenge was parenting my children through the NYC education system. The rigid and unforgiving education that my children received did not allow any space for their learning differences. They did not see themselves in the white-centric curriculum and we struggled to find support during their developmental years. Advocating for my children was a full-time job on top of my paying-full-time-job. Again and again I have stood with parents for a more equitable and life-affirming education for our kids. It is with this same community spirit of coalition building, advocacy and bettering of our social safety nets that I will push for policies that support all types of families in NYC.

360: What is one of the most significant components of your background or experiential knowledge that separates you from any other candidate?

Morales: I am, in so many ways, the average New Yorker. I was born and bred in Bed-Stuy. I am an Afro Latina single-mom of two children who survived the New York City public school system. I am a first generation college graduate who came back home to my city after school. I am a woman of color who discovered that I was not being paid the same as my white male counterparts. I’ve watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen Starbucks replace the corner bodega, and I have spent my weekends marching side by side – 6 feet apart – with my fellow New Yorkers demanding justice for those killed at the hands of a racist policing system. Because I am the average New Yorker, my voice reflects the voices of thousands of others. We share our lived experiences, frustrations and joys. I love New York City because I see our full potential for all of us.

360: How does your previous extensive work with social service nonprofits inform your motivations and goals to serve as Mayor?

Morales: For decades, I worked within the community to address structural inequities burdening communities of color. I worked alongside those experiencing the symptoms of our broken system most acutely – poverty, lack of access to education, homelessness and mental health services. I witnessed firsthand the day-to-day struggles of New Yorkers that are perpetuated by cycles of poverty and oppression. I worked from the ground, up and from the inside, out. But as I hammered away, I recognized these structural and institutional barriers, and began to ask, “So how do we burn them down?” It felt as though I was only tinkering around the edges of the problem and providing Band-Aid solutions to deep, deep wounds. The core, perpetuating issues were centralized and foundational. I realized that if I want to create lasting, effective change, I must address these systemic and political problems at the root. As Mayor, I would carry with me the voices of those I have served.

360: In outlining your points of action and reform for New York City, how does the COVID-19 pandemic affect any of these potential strides for change?

Morales: As we know, COVID-19 is a catastrophe that illuminates all of the cracks and splinters in our broken systems. At first, many claimed the COVID-19 was a “great equalizer,” affecting all people, regardless of race, class or gender. Instead COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color and low-income communities. This is not a coincidence or personal failing, but rather the direct result of racist systems, putting structural oppression in stark relief. While some New Yorkers are able to escape crowded areas, arm themselves with personal protective equipment and work remotely, others, namely people of color, are on the front lines providing essential services to our city.

As COVID-19 has had devastating consequences that will leave a lasting impact for years to come, it has also provided us with a unique moment. As we saw after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, being homebound and isolated forces us to pay attention. We have paused. We have slowed down. With fewer distractions and a center of focus, folks all across the country have had the veil lifted. People are noticing the interconnected webs of oppression I have lived with and that I have been fighting to dismantle my entire life. In this moment, we need leaders in office who are of, by and for the movement for social change. There is a momentum and hunger for justice that can no longer be ignored. As we overcome the challenge of the disease, I will never let the city forget who is truly essential. Together we will create a world in which front-line workers are truly valued as indispensable. A world where we accompany our applause and platitudes with a livable wage, unquestionable dignity and real community power.

360: What are some of the most rewarding takeaways you have gained from leading several momentous organizations?

Morales: I’ve learned firsthand about the barriers and challenges that people have to overcome in order to gain access to opportunities that are alleged to be available to everyone. I also have watched as community members care for one another to bridge the gaps in access to those opportunities. This is testament to the power of our communities to be true partners in determining the solutions they face when given the resources to do so. Finally, I have been able to bear witness to what is possible when people finally gain access and opportunity and how that has the potential to change the trajectory of people’s lives and transform families and communities.

360: Regarding the national and global movement, Black Lives Matter, how will you utilize your unique identity to empower minorities in the City of New York?

Morales: Like many people of color, I have lived years of my life trying not to take up space. I have seen the ways that my identities – my Blackness, my Latina roots, my politics, my womanhood – make people, namely white people, uncomfortable. In these spaces I would constantly ask myself, “Do I seem too opinionated, too articulate, too aggressive?” I would contort and deflate myself to fit into tight corners and small boxes. I would shrink myself so that others could feel big. When making the decision to run for Mayor of NYC, I decided it was important for me to run as my full, unadulterated, unapologetic, multi-hyphenated self. There would be no more shrinking, questioning or self-doubt. I recognize that by the very nature of stepping into this space, I am opening up a path of possibility. As the first Afro-Latina running for mayor of New York City, I recognize the awesome responsibility I hold. I know that when I speak, unfairly or not, I am representing all Afro-Latina women. Missteps become mass stereotypes. Accolades become communal achievements.

This is both beautiful and deeply terrifying. But in moments of fear, I am guided by a greater purpose to bring with me those whom have been devalued and made to feel small, as I have been; to elevate the voices of those with shared experiences and claim our rightful place in democracy and representation in leadership. People like me, individuals and communities of color, women of color, we must be at the forefront of our politics and policies. I am deeply committed to divesting from racist systems and investing in Black and Brown communities. I am committed to reimagining public safety on our streets and in our schools. I am committed to shifting wealth opportunities to those who have been historically marginalized. I am committed to redressing and repairing the wounds of oppression that scar our city. I am in this race to stand taller in the face of a world that tells me to shrink. I am here to tell them that Black lives are beloved. We matter today and every day forward.

360: To all of the NYC citizens following your efforts to better numerous communities, what are some of the best ways individuals can support your campaign?

Morales: The best way to help me is to join the campaign with a small contribution. I am not a career politician, and unlike other candidates, I have not spent decades cultivating a war chest of people, networks and resources to kickstart my run for mayor. I want to be responsive to the people, not the special interests.. My campaign was born out of my home in Bed-Stuy, out of conversations with my neighbors, friends and colleagues. Our campaign is 100% powered by the people, not the 1%. We are an intersectional coalition of Black and Brown, Latinx, LGBTQIA and working class New Yorkers. We are backed by the people being hit the hardest at this moment in time. I am so incredibly humbled that in the middle of a pandemic, without employment, people are finding a way to donate to our campaign. I know what is at stake and the choices they have had to make to do so. If donating to our campaign is not possible for you during this financially uncertain time, we understand. Visit my website, dianne.nyc, for information and volunteer opportunities. Spread our mission to your fellow New Yorkers. Reach out to join our team. Remember me in November 2021.

To learn more about Dianne Morales, you can click right here. To learn more about her stances and solutions, you can click right here. To support Morales through donations, you can click right here. You can also support her on Twitter and Instagram.

New National Scorecard on Juvenile Record Policies

Juvenile Law Center today launched Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures: Revisiting a National Scorecard on Juvenile Records – a national report evaluating state juvenile records policies. The organization will be holding a national press zoom call on the scorecard today at 12:30 pm EST.

The report updates a project the organization launched in the fall of 2014 – the nation’s first-ever, comprehensive evaluation of state juvenile record confidentiality and expungement laws against best practices for record protection. The 2014 study showed that over 50% of the states failed to adequately protect juvenile records, thereby limiting opportunities for youth exiting the juvenile justice system.

Six years later, Juvenile Law Center’s new report shows some reform but remaining widespread deficiencies in the legal protections necessary to keep juvenile records secure.

The report’s primary author, Staff Attorney Andrew Keats, emphasized the importance of reforming juvenile record laws. “Kids make mistakes,” said Keats. “The role of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate them to prevent future mistakes and ensure they can become productive members of society. These goals are frustrated by ongoing access to juvenile record information by law enforcement, schools, businesses and the public, long after a youth’s system involvement has ended.”

While some states acted quickly to reform their laws following release of the 2014 report, too many states continue to provide easy access to juvenile records, which push young people with system involvement—primarily Black and Brown youth—deeper into the criminal justice system and poverty. Juvenile Law Center hopes this new report will return a spotlight to this issue and drive states to do better by their youth. While overall incarceration rates of young people are down substantially since 2014, lax records laws will continue to impede opportunities for future success going forward.

“The collateral consequences of unprotected juvenile records fall most heavily on Black and Brown youth, who are far more likely to face obstacles to securing housing, employment, and a college degree than their white counterparts,” said Riya Saha Shah, Managing Director. “If we want to advance equity, strong juvenile records laws must be part of the solution.”

Mr. Keats and Ms. Shah are available for comment and interview. Please join them both at 12:30 pm EST for a national national press zoom call on the scorecard:

Meeting ID: 764 9954 1320

Passcode: Lm3N15

Juvenile Law Center advocates for rights, dignity, equity and opportunity for youth in the child welfare and justice systems. Founded in 1975, Juvenile Law Center is the first non-profit, public interest law firm for children in the country. We fight for youth through litigation, appellate advocacy and submission of amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs, policy reform, public education, training, consulting, and strategic communications. Widely published and internationally recognized as leaders in the field, Juvenile Law Center has substantially shaped the development of law and policy on behalf of youth. We strive to ensure that laws, policies, and practices affecting youth advance racial and economic equity and are rooted in research, consistent with children’s unique developmental characteristics, and reflective of international human rights values.

Poor People's Campaign illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Poor People’s Campaign

The Poor People’s Campaign will demand a moral policy agenda to heal America in a congressional briefing Thursday as it follows up on its digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington that drew millions of viewers.

Legislators and other political leaders from both sides of the aisle have been invited to attend the digital briefing, where campaign leaders will lay out the specifics of the Moral Policy Agenda to Heal America: The Poor People’s Jubilee Platform

The agenda is grounded in constitutional and moral values and offers concrete solutions to end the ongoing, concurrent crises of the five interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, militarism, ecological devastation and the false moral narrative of extreme religious nationalism.

“It’s time that we lift from the bottom, which requires us to address all five of the interlocking injustices,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. “We cannot put more money in systemic racism, corporate interests and the war economy than we do in living wages, health care, public education and guaranteeing equal protection under the law. Poverty is lethal; systemic racism is lethal; COVID-19 is lethal. This agenda demands what must be now and after the election to heal the nation.”

Also invited to attend are the tri-chairs from the 45 states where the Poor People’s Campaign is organizing, along with the campaign’s national partners and faith partners.

The briefing follows the campaign’s digital justice assembly on June 20th, when millions of people tuned in to the digital justice gathering to hear the reality facing 140 million people who are poor or low-income in the wealthiest country in the world and where 700 people die each day from poverty — even before COVID-19.

Also on that day, the campaign’s coordinating committees from 45 states and over 200 organizational partners, labor unions and religious denominations came together around the moral policy agenda to heal America.

“Biblically, the Year of Jubilee was a time to release people from their debts, release all slaves and ensure that all people have what they need to thrive, not just barely survive,” said Rev. Liz Theoharis, director of Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Our Justice Platform provides a way for this country to do the same with policies and budgets that lift people out of poverty and revive the economy with the promise of a brighter future for all.”

The sweeping platform offers a roadmap for lawmakers to take seriously the moral and constitutional principles upon which this country was founded: to establish justice, promote the general welfare, ensure domestic tranquility, secure the blessings of liberty and provide for the common defense.

In addition to Barber and Theoharis, the policy director for the Kairos Center and the Poor People’s Campaign, Shailly Gupta Barnes, will address the briefing. The briefing begins at 1 p.m. and lasts until 2:30 p.m. Thursday. It’s open only to the media and invited guests. Reporters can register here.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral  Revival, is building a broad and deep moral fusion movement rooted in the leadership of poor people to unite our country from the bottom up. We demand that both major political parties address the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism and the distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our updated agenda, the Poor People’s Moral Justice Jubilee Policy Platform addresses these issues.

America can’t address the moral crisis of poverty without addressing healthcare. Some 140 million people in the U.S. – or more than 43 percent – live in poverty or are low-wealth” Rekindling a Prophetic Moral Vision for Justice, Social Change and Movement BuildingFollow Poor People’s Campaign: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

Rita Azar, illustration, 360 MAGAZINE,

Digital Justice Gathering

On Saturday, the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will host the largest digital gathering of poor and low-income people in this nation’s history.

Streaming/Broadcasting Available in All Formats

What: Poor and low-income people from throughout the country will testify about their experiences of systemic poverty, systemic racism, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism. They will be introduced by religious figures such as Rev. Dr. Bernice King, CEO of the King Center; Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry; Rev. Terri Hord Owens, the first black woman to lead the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Artists and activists also will introduce testifiers, including Erika Alexander, David Oyelowo, Danny  Glover, Wanda Sykes, Jane Fonda, Debra Messing, and former Vice President Al Gore. Union leaders including SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, SEIU 1199 President George Gresham, and Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants in the Communications. Workers of America, also are part of the program.

The assembly will be streamed on major TV and radio networks, as well as at june2020.org.

*A virtual pressroom will be set up for reporters’ questions on June 20th. Media can register for it here.

**The event will be open captioned with ASL and Spanish interpretation, all of which will be accessible at june2020.org

Who: The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II of Repairers of the Breach and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis of the Kairos Center, who will frame the day’s purpose. Rev. Barber will give a call to action after all the testimony, and Rev. Theoharis will challenge religious nationalism. The campaign has the support of 20 national religious bodies, 16 labor unions, and over 200 national organizations. See full partner list here.

When: 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Saturday, June 20th, and 6 p.m. Sunday, June 21st. All times Eastern.

Where: This online gathering will be streamed at june2020.org as well as on major TV and radio networks, and will include participants from more than  40 states.

Why: More than 140 million poor and low-income people live in the United States, or 43% of the country’s population and 700 people die each day from poverty — and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The  Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, with organizing committees in 45 states, is building a moral fusion movement to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism, to implement its Moral Agenda, based on years of policy research and budgetary analysis, and to uphold demands on systemic racism. Among the impacted people who will speak are service workers from the Midwest who have worked through the pandemic without PPE; a Kansas farm couple fighting for local health care; a coal miner from Appalachia; mothers who have lost children due to lack of health care, residents of Cancer Alley in Louisiana, and an Apache elder who is petitioning the federal government to stop a corporation from destroying a sacred site in Arizona.

As the nation rightfully continues protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the campaign upholds that public policy continues to disproportionately kill people of color and poor and low-income people across the country and that a budget is not simply an allocation of funds, but is a moral document that reflects social values. This digital mass assembly will call for poor and low-income people to build power and register to vote like never before. It presents an opportunity for all people to join together in a united call for justice from wherever they are.

We urge all members of Congress, all governors, the White House administration and both presidential candidates to watch the program to enlighten themselves about the lives of poor and low-income people in this nation and the need for a stimulus bill that helps people from the bottom up.

Background

In 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and many others launched the Poor People’s Campaign, seeking to build a broad, fusion movement that could unite poor and impacted communities across the country, and organize a “revolution of values” in the United States. In 2018, that call was picked up once again by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

FPWA × Poor People’s Campaign

FPWA’s chief executive officer and executive director, Jennifer Jones Austin, and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of Repairers of the Breach and national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, will hold a virtual rally on June 9 to bring attention to the campaign’s Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, to be held online on June 20.

Rev. Barber and Ms. Austin will lead a conversation about why every American should participate in the assembly and march, which will be the largest digital and social media gathering of poor and low-wealth people, moral and religious leaders, advocates, and people of conscience in United States history. This gathering will bring together and raise the voices of the 140 million poor and low-income Americans.

Ms. Austin leads FPWA, whose mission it is to advocate for just public policies that promote the social and economic well-being of all New Yorkers. She is one of eight members on Mayor de Blasio’s Fair Policy Task Force to rebuild a fairer New York as the city restarts its economy by confronting the deep inequities that reach into every neighborhood.

FPWA is linking arms with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival to ensure that as we emerge from the global pandemic, which is exposing even more of the already existing crisis of systemic racism and poverty, we rebuild with the aim of no longer managing poverty but instead, ending poverty across the nation. They will also address the current state of social unrest and political disenfranchisement in the wake of incidents across the country impacting the most vulnerable.

Who:

Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and ED of FPWA Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and national co-chair of Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

What:

Virtual rally and conversation in support of the Mass Poor People’s Assembly & Moral March on Washington

When:

11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 9

National Day of Fasting

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.

Young Bae

A native of Seoul, South Korea, Young Bae’s childhood reads like a painful chapter of Oliver Twist. Using her innate talent – art – to overcome years of poverty, homelessness and abuse, Young managed to escape.

Young’s mom, an artist herself, was consistently unable to provide and care for her children and members of their community refused to volunteer assistance. Young recalls the cultural reaction to her family’s suffering with clarity,

“Korea is a materialistic country,” confides Young, now proprietor of the marquee Diamond Tattoos shop in New York City’s Times Square. “No matter how hard you work, it is hard to break away from poverty – nobody gives you an opportunity. If you’re poor, you’re poor for life. They treat the less fortunate like shit, hence I couldn’t talk to anybody about how I was living – not even my best friend. So I kept it all a secret, as best I could.”

Young did her best to mix in with other more privileged kids, even as she and her family moved around in church basements, abandoned houses and even a shipping container throughout her teenage years. “I may have been homeless with no money, but I was always fresh and fashionable,” says the self-taught tattoo queen has come a long way to now ink high-profile clientele and eager fans of the drama-filled show, “Black Ink.” “When my family didn’t have access to a shower I would clean up at public restrooms every morning. I’d also get hand-me-down-clothes from church and create my own fashions, or at least I tried to. My teachers suspected I was poor because there were things I couldn’t pay for, but for the most part I think I flew under the radar.”

She didn’t fly under the radar though when it came to her talent, her teachers and classmates acknowledged her ability to sketch, draw as well as paint. Young began receiving accolades for her fabrications, using the sales to buy basic necessities.

Young was able to land a partial academic scholarship to a college where she continued to hone her craft until she was ready to leave Korea.

“New York is an artist’s city,” says the Chugye University graduate, “so it just made sense.”

They say if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere and the bonafide hustler Young took the motto to heart. In 2007, the 22-year-old made a beeline for Koreatown in Manhattan, touching down with just $80 and a student visa to study English, she landed a job at a local nail salon.

Despite a language barrier, she wouldn’t stop there. Young continued job hunting, getting jobs at restaurants, jewelry shops, even illegally hawking her art in New York’s famed Union Square. All this to make her share of the rent for a small place with roommates in New Jersey.

On the way to the tattoo shop in NYC, the neon lights of New York City brightly shined on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Tattooing was illegal in South Korea so Young had no experience. “I walked in, took a look around at the tattoo sketches on the wall, and thought, hey, I could do this. So I offered the shop owners a barter: in exchange for giving me a shot I would clean their shop for free. They agreed.” With that, her apprenticeship commenced.

In no time, Young became confident in her skills and moved to another shop where she could demand a tattoo artist’s wages. Quickly becoming the most requested artist in the shop, Young decided look into owning and operating her own business.

“I rented this little ratty spot on 46th Street in Times Square. It was literally a storage room in the back of an eyebrow threading shop. I got licensed, worked like three additional jobs to afford the $1000/month overhead and scoured the area to find shelves, paint and other stuff to decorate. I upholstered my first tattoo chairs with fake leather I found on the street. Then every day I’d go hold up this human-sized sign advertising my shop, and miraculously people showed up. Eventually so many showed up, I quickly outgrew the space!”

With Young’s growing credibility and reputation among fellow artists throughout the tri-state area, it was no wonder that reality TV show producers eventually came calling.

“My shop might not have been the fanciest, but my work was good and news about me began to spread quickly. It kept getting bigger and busier every year,” she says.

Young was delighted to join VH1’s popular show “Black Ink Crew: New York” during its fifth season. Heading into its seventh season, Young Bae is a fascinating and loveable character to watch.

Through it all, Young gives God the credit for not just where she is today but where’s she’s headed, “I had faith that poverty, homelessness and abuse wouldn’t be the end of my story. I went through all of what I did so I could come out on top on the other end and eventually go on to help others who are vulnerable like I was. There is greatness waiting for us all and I’m determined to live and share my best life now.”

Currently, Young Bae is working on an athleisure line 2one2 and a book sharing her life experiences.

Additional information can be found on her wikipedia.

Madonna In Malawi

Madonna is currently visiting Malawi, where she has worked since 2006 with her charitable organization, Raising Malawi. The musician and philanthropist is marking the first anniversary of the Mercy James Centre for Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care, an ambitious project undertaken by Raising Malawi to improve specialized paediatric healthcare in Malawi. Located on the campus of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) – the largest referral hospital in the country – the Mercy James Centre includes Malawi’s first paediatric intensive care unit, three operating theatres dedicated to surgery in children, a day clinic, and 50-bed ward.

“Malawi is a second home for me and my family, and every time we come here is a homecoming. It’s a thrill to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Mercy James Centre, its talented staff, and the committed partners who have worked with Raising Malawi to make this effort a success,” said Madonna. “Our achievements this past year have exceeded our expectations, and we will continue with our mission to better serve the children of this country.”

Raising Malawi funded the Mercy James Centre for Paediatric Surgery and Intensive Care (MJC) to provide Malawi’s youth with the best medical care possible. Since opening July 11, 2018, the talented staff of Mercy James Centre have:

  • Performed 1,690 paediatric surgeries – more than double the annual average before the Mercy James Centre
  • Admitted nearly 300 patients into the paediatric ICU
  • Seen 2,300 patients in the outpatient clinic
  • Admitted nearly 1,500 patients into the ward

 

The MJC is setting a new standard of paediatric surgical and intensive care in the region. Highlights from year one include Malawi’s first successful operation of conjoined twins. A team of 20+ doctors, nurses and anesthesia staff, led by long-time Raising Malawi partner Dr. Eric Borgstein, successfully separated two baby boys. The effort was a testament to spirit of collaboration and excellence that is imbedded in the culture of Mercy James Centre.

“We are able to tackle cases that we never could have done in the past. Because of the Mercy James Centre, we are saving more children’s lives, particularly those with complex medical issues. The support of Madonna and Raising Malawi has transformed paediatric surgical and intensive care in Malawi,” said Dr. Borgstein.

In addition to increasing paediatric surgical capacity, the Mercy James Centre is growing into its role as a training center of excellence. It houses the sole paediatric surgery training program in Malawi, supported by Raising Malawi. Partners like Physicians for Peace and Oslo University Hospital drive bedside education in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU), the first PICU in Malawi.

Madonna is also a global leader in promoting education for the world’s most vulnerable children. In 2012, she launched a partnership between her foundation, Raising Malawi, and the global nonprofit buildOn. Today, Madonna has served nearly 10,000 Malawian students – fulfilling her commitment to making learning and school accessible to Malawian youth. During her latest trip, Madonna traveled to Northeast Kasungu Province to officially open four primary schools constructed with buildOn – in total Raising Malawi has built 14 schools in rural Malawi. As a part of the partnership, Raising Malawi and buildOn have educated community members about the importance of girls’ education, and as result, all schools have gender-parity (equal numbers of girls and boys enrolled).

Madonna concluded the trip with a meeting with His Excellency President Arthur Peter Mutharika, who appointed her Malawi’s Goodwill Ambassador for Child Welfare in 2014.

About Raising Malawi
Madonna founded Raising Malawi in 2006 to address the poverty and hardship endured by Malawi’s orphans and vulnerable children. Raising Malawi partners with local organizations to provide Malawian children and their caregivers with critical resources including education and medical care. http://www.raisingmalawi.org

About buildOn
At home or abroad, buildOn’s goal is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. Across the U.S., buildOn empowers urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service and to change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries in the world. Since 1991, buildOn has constructed 864 schools worldwide, with more than 110,000 children, parents and grandparents attending these schools every day. For more information, visit www.buildon.org. buildOn has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.