Poor People’s Campaign Wants to Look Lawmakers in the Eye

Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET

Groups in 25 states including Michigan are launching an effort to bring legislators face-to-face with those dealing with the policies lawmakers create.

Organizers say what they call the Poor People’s Campaign is based on a movement championed a half-century ago by Martin Luther King Jr.

Flint resident Melissa Mays, one of the first to bring attention to problems with the lead-tainted water in that city, is helping organize the Poor People’s campaign in Michigan.


We are going to hopefully force them to look at this through a moral lens…We are going to basically force them to have a conscience.” – Poor People’s Campaign organizer Melissa Mays

She says speakers will take to the steps of the state capitol in Lansing and those in many other states.

Bre’Anna Tinsley/WDET

Flint resident Melissa Mays and her son Cole

These are 25 of the most impacted states with the highest percentages of poverty,” Mays says. “All these different states are standing together and saying enough is enough. Especially with the tax bill, the cuts that they’ve been talking about into Medicaid, CHIP, all these things. The people that need it the most are the ones who are gonna be hurt the greatest.”


Mays says the campaign will eventually reach the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, where she says voters will try to personally confront members of Congress.

We are going to hopefully force them to look at this through a moral lens and say okay, these are people. They’re faces, they’re children, they’re elderly. They’re people, hard-working people that just need to not be left behind. So we are going to basically force them to have a conscience,” Mays says.

She adds that members of the campaign will press for limiting cuts to programs that they say those in poverty rely on.

Organizers vow to continue various Poor People’s Campaign events throughout the coming election year.


Click on the audio link above to hear the full interview with Melissa Mays

Image credit: Dawn Uhl-Zifilippo/WDET

About the Author

Quinn Klinefelter

Senior News Editor

I grab news in the morning, check the papers and the wires, call sources and take a big gulp of coffee. That’s how I start the day.


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