The Arkansas Poor People’s Campaign is streaming live from the state Capitol on its Facebook page as the national Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival kicks off today in states across the nation. Watch now to see the speakers on why we need a poor people’s campaign: “the politics of division have failed us, black v. white, red v. blue, men. v. women have failed.”

The campaign is meant to be a renewal of an effort Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started shortly before he was assassinated.


William Barber, a pastor in Goldsboro, N.C., has worked to revive the campaign alongside the Rev. Liz Theoharis, a co-director of the Kairos Center, at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Barber was recently profiled by Jelani Cobb in The New Yorker:

Beginning on Mother’s Day and continuing until June 23rd—the last full day of the 1968 campaign—thousands of people in some forty states are expected to commit acts of civil disobedience and protest against policies enacted at the federal and, especially, the state level, that have disproportionately affected poor people. “If you have bad voting laws in your state,” Barber told me, “that’s not done in Congress, that’s something done at the local level.” The movement is largely intended to be an independent undertaking of community groups, but it is aided by Theoharis’s indefatigable organizing efforts and Barber’s ability to project his charisma from the pulpit and the TV screen—he is a regular presence on CNN and, in particular, MSNBC.

On the left, Barber tends to inspire unsolicited testimonials. Last winter, I found myself seated in front of Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, on a train from New York to Boston. We started talking, and I mentioned that I was writing a story about Barber. She said that she had participated in an event with him years earlier, and had followed his work since. She was impressed by his intelligence and his commitment. “He’s the real thing,” she said. A few weeks later, at a restaurant in Cambridge, Cornel West used the same words when he saw that I had a copy of Barber’s book “The Third Reconstruction,” which is partly a memoir of his activism and partly an elucidation of his ideas for the movement that he is attempting to build. “That brother is the real thing,” West told me. Theoharis has also heard the phrase applied to Barber. “He has really given his life and all that is in it to the struggle,” she said. “And I don’t think that happens every time. I don’t think that, in this society, that actually is heralded, or valued, or upheld as what you’re supposed to do. But he embodies this.”

Arkansas Times photographer Brian Chilson was on hand. Check out a slideshow of the protest below: