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Hundreds Mourn Deaths by Poverty Outside NC Legislature, Vow Action

Source: WRAL, ABC11

Hundreds of activists gathered outside the North Carolina State Capitol on March 2 with signs demanding health care, reproductive freedom, gun control, improvements to public education and most prominently, an end to systemic poverty.

It was one of several coordinated demonstrations across the country organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, a national movement to continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by advocating for social reforms.

The campaign gathered at the NC State Capitol before marching to the North Carolina Legislative Building chanting “forward together, not one step back,” and carrying a coffin to symbolize the estimated 295,000 Americans that die each year from poverty. In an emotional speech, Rev. William Barber III, co-chairman of The Poor People’s campaign, said it would take 600 years of daily funerals to mourn the dead from poverty each year and recounted the final words of friends who had died due to discrimination or inadequate healthcare.

“Poverty and low wages are violence, a deeply deadly violence,” said Barber to the marchers. “America must face not just poverty in America, but poverty in America. The uniqueness of the poverty here, which is greater than any of the other top 25 industrial countries of the world.”

For over an hour, a range of speakers testified about how unaddressed issues have impacted their families, communities, and individual lives. The event concluded with a march to the polls for early voting and representatives of The Poor People’s Campaign delivering a list of “moral public policy demands”’ to state lawmakers.

“We need to come to Raleigh to make our voices heard and take back the moral voice from these extremists and own our power,” said Reverend Rob Stephen, an event organizer speaking to ABC11. “This movement is a powerful one and about getting to those who aren’t voting or who don’t think their vote matters.”

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