Friday, June 05, 2009

Mobilizing marchers in Mississippi

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference has been trying to mobilize people to join them in an anti-poverty march in Jackson, Mississippi. The state has one of the biggest concentrations of poor people in the nation. The SCLC hopes to give more attention to the people struggling, and that they are struggling even harder in this recession.

From this Associated Press article that we found in the Picayune Item, SCLC leader Rev. Byron Clay describes his plans for the march.

Clay was in Jackson on Wednesday to announce details about the campaign, which is similar to the initiative Dr. Martin Luther King was working on before he was killed in 1968. The renewed push comes as the nation grapples with a national recession, and Congress steers billions in federal dollars to corporate bailouts. Clay said America’s poor have been left to fend for themselves.

“The working families in this nation are in deep trouble,” Clay said.

The June 20 demonstration will be held at the Mississippi Capitol. Poverty hearings will follow Aug. 1-5 at the SCLC’s national convention in Memphis, Tenn.

Initially, the SCLC wanted to take its march to Washington, D.C.

“We had pretty much concluded that’s where we were going to go,” Clay said. “And one morning the Lord spoke to me and said ’Take this march to Jackson, Miss.”’

He said Mississippi leads the nation in “terms of suffering and poverty. We thought we would bring the nation here so they can witness firsthand.”

But the SCLC will be more than 100 miles away from pockets of the Mississippi Delta with some of the highest illiteracy, teen pregnancy and disease rates in the nation. Surrounded by fertile flatlands, the area was once a sea of cotton plantations, where blacks often worked as sharecroppers for white landowners. Many of its residents still live in ramshackle homes and some towns have streets that haven’t been paved for decades.

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