Lena Mitchell

LENA MITCHELL

The 2020 national election is shaping up to be more historic than ever.

Whatever the outcome of the presidential impeachment inquiry that the U.S. House of Representatives has begun, the candidates who will be on the ballot on Nov. 3, 2020, will help shape the future of this nation in ways we would never have imagined less than three years ago.

Like voters who go to the ballot box on every election day, the voters who cast a ballot on Nov. 5, 2019, will play an important role in our nation’s future.

Mississippi is now not quite the poorest state in the nation, ranking 49th, while West Virginia now holds the 50th spot, but almost a fifth of the state’s population live in poverty.

That is a simple statement that we may hear repeatedly, so we may accept it as a simple fact of life in this state.

But to understand the true depth of the economic poverty in our state one must think about the fact that our poverty is a legacy that has endured for generations.

Families work to build wealth that they can pass on from one generation to another, but Mississippi families who have lived a hand-to-mouth existence from birth to death, earning only enough to survive from day to day, month to month, never know what it means to have enough to leave something for their children to build on. Often our communities are holding fundraisers for people who don’t even leave enough behind to cover their funeral and burial expenses.

Those are the very people who need to be awakened to the fact that they can change the future for themselves and their families at the ballot box.

In a re-launch of the Poor People’s Campaign last month, North Carolina’s Rev. William Barber, a former chairman of that state’s NAACP, is leading a 22-state tour that he has labeled “A National Call for Moral Revival.”

The original Poor People’s Campaign was founded in 1968 by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. It launched in Marks, Mississippi on March 18, 1968, only a few weeks before King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.

Titled the “We Must Do M.O.R.E.” Tour, the event will arrive for a stop in the Mississippi Delta/Memphis area on Friday, May 15-Monday, May 18, 2020.

At the end of the tour will be a “Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington” on June 20, 2020.

“The reality of 140 million people who are poor or low-wealth and just one $400 emergency away from being poor – and who represent every race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, and political party and account for 43.5 percent of the people living in the richest nation in the world – is a moral crisis,” reads literature promoting the event.

The literature further notes that the nation’s largest voting block is people from all parties who did not vote in 2016.

The M.O.R.E. Tour will be “Mobilizing, Organizing, Registering and Educating” poor people, as well as those concerned about civic and economic justice, to use the voting power at their disposal.

LENA MITCHELL is a retired Daily Journal reporter who continues to write a regular column. Readers can contact her at lena.mitchell.dj@gmail.com.

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