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Poor People Campaign's 'moral revival' comes to Rochester

A national campaign that started with Martin Luther King Jr. was recently revived, and it's coming to Rochester.

The Poor People's Campaign began in 1968, when the civil rights leader called on the federal government to come up with a plan to address unemployment and housing problems throughout the United States.

In 2018, organizers took up the cause again, branding it a "moral revival" with three goals: Shift the narrative on poverty; organize and unite people from all walks of life; and impact elections and policies.

"As we do that," said the campaign's national co-chair, the Rev. Liz Theoharis, "people see the power that people coming together, voting together, organizing together, protesting in streets together, singing together, raising their kids together, can make."

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Theoharis said they're challenging the presidential candidates to make sure issues that affect poor people -- close to half of the U.S. population -- are front and center.

"It's not an accident that poor people often don't hear their name, don't hear their condition, don't see that voting will actually have a significant impact on their lives, so that's where this movement comes in," she said.

As part of its national tour, the Poor People's Campaign is hosting what it calls a "mass meeting" at 7 p.m. Friday at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 141 Adams St., Rochester.

People will be invited to talk about how poverty affects their lives. Theoharis said there will also be a discussion about solutions.

The campaign is organizing a Mass Poor People's Assembly and Moral March on Washington, D.C., in June.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Theoharis.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.