June 15th, 2020

// American crisis: Poor People’s Campaign, MSNBC host special on poverty in a pandemic

American crisis: Poor People’s Campaign, MSNBC host special on poverty in a pandemic

A Kansas farmer and his wife, a meat-packing worker and people surviving on a minimum wage will headline an MSNBC special on poverty featuring the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

The special, titled “American Crisis: Poverty and the Pandemic,” will air at 10 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, June 14. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the campaign, will co-host the special with MSNBC’s Joy Reid of AM Joy.

 The special airs less than one week before the campaign holds its digital Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington on June 20th.  People can register at june2020.org. The program originally was scheduled to air May 31 but was postponed. 

 Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice and campaign co-chair, also will speak during the special. Other participants include country singer Willie Nelson; U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts and chef Andrew Zimmern, host of the MSNBC limited series “What’s Eating America.”

Reid said the special gives viewers the opportunity to meet poor and working-class Americans who are “trying to survive one of the biggest challenges this country has faced in nearly a century.”

Before COVID-19, 140 million people lived in poverty, and 700 people died each day from poverty. “It’s not just somebody living on the street,” Barber said. “Poverty is affecting 43% of the nation, and it’s worsening in this pandemic.”

Nelson will introduce Kansas farmer Mark Pringle and his wife, retired nurse Mary Jane Shanklin, who will talk about the lack of health care in rural areas and the increasing number of deaths by suicide among farmers. Kennedy will talk with two minimum-wage workers, while Zimmern will talk with a meat packer who says he must choose each between risking his life at work or not having money to feed his child.

“We are in a time when nearly 40 million people have filed for unemployment; homelessness is projected to increase by 45% and more than half our nation’s children are going hungry and workers are being called essential but treated as expendable,” Theoharis said. “We must hear the stories and solutions to the dual pandemics of the coronavirus and respond.”

After Congress lavished trillions of dollars on corporations but didn’t help those who live in poverty and low-income, people are fighting for a COVID-19 stimulus bill that helps people from the bottom up, Barber said.

 “People are telling me that if we’re going to die, we’re going to use our last breaths to speak out for love, truth and justice to revive the moral focus of this nation,” Barber said. “We can’t accept going back to normal. This country must change.”

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