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Video: Poverty Initiative's 10th Anniversary - A Movement Celebration

Poverty Initiative 10th Anniversary Timeline

Poverty Initiative Launches 10th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign to Raise $100,000

PI 10th Anniversary2014-2015 is the Poverty Initiative’s 10th Anniversary Year.  Since 2003 we have been raising up a network of leaders dedicated to building a social movement to end poverty led by the poor.  Our model and inspiration has always been to reignite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign.  As economic conditions continue to grow more desperate, Dr. King's vision of uniting the poor across lines of division to end poverty becomes more important than ever.  

On April 24, 2014, we will convene our vast network of leaders, friends and supporters at our home at Union in New York City for a Movement Celebration in James Chapel at 6.30 pm. As part of the evening’s celebration, we will honor and recognize all those who have been instrumental in building up this network that is taking up the charge to re-ignite Dr. King’s vision for today.  

Please register here for the Movement Celebration.  

This year we are also launching our 10th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign.  As the Poverty Initiative’s network of Poverty Scholars and leaders has expanded across 28 states and 17 countries around the world, our resource demands have grown as well.  

This 10th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign has the goal of raising $100,000 In order to strengthen our capacity to deepen and expand this important work. 

As part of this campaign, we are including a call for PI’s $10 for 10 Sustainers Drive, identifying those willing to make monthly contributions to support our work.   Our goal with this Drive is to raise $10,000 a year in monthly gifts. To date, we have received monthly sustainership pledges from $5 to $100 from nearly 40 people, totaling over $700 per month or almost $8500 annually.  

All of these gifts, big and small, sustain and grow our work in material ways, especially as we consider the financial sustainability of our long-term efforts to re-ignite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign for today and the challenges of broadening and deepening our grassroots network.   

Please consider making a donation – or becoming a PI Sustainer – today.  


We look forward to celebrating with you soon, and building the movement we need to end poverty, for today and tomorrow.

The Poverty Initiative


Saving OurSelves Coalition - Caravan Democracy

Poverty Scholars Barbara Robbins and Zack Carter from Alabama Fisheries Cooperative in Bayou La Batre, AL (part of the Southern Federation Cooperatives) take part in the Caravan for Democracy from Montgomery, AL to Washington, DC.

The Poverty Initiative and the Kairos Center join leaders from Alabama, including Zack and Barbara, for the Caravan for Democracy.  On Wednesday, March 12, Saving OurSelves (SOS), a statewide coalition based in Alabama, will arrive in Washington, DC to take a stand against the attacks on voting rights happening throughout the South.  The caravan launches out of the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma held over the weekend.  On Monday, 3/10, the caravan starts with a rally in Montgomery, AL.  Then, over the course of two days, the caravan will hold rallies in Atlanta, GA, Columbia, SC, Raleigh, NC, Richmond, VA, and then finally the nation's capitol.


Last year, the US Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and since that decision, there has been an onslaught of unbridled policies calculated to suppress votes, discriminate against the poor on the whole, and poor people of color in particular.  People throughout the South have not taken this affront to democracy lying down.  From the Moral Mondays struggle in North Carolina to Saving OurSelves' Truth and Justice Tuesdays in Alabama, people are getting organized.  In addition to defending voting rights, these struggles coming out of the South are raising key human rights issues, especially the oppression of the poor.

In March 1965, marchers in Selma, AL were brutally attacked as they crossed the Pettus Bridge.  This event that came to be known as "Bloody Sunday" helped set the stage for the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.  In the struggle for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, a great victory was won 49 years ago.  Now this battle must be fought again.

SavingOurselves, a coalition of community and religious leaders across Alabama have taken up the charge to wage a year long campaign leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Selma march.  Their goal is to build a campaign across the South, in 50 cities, to "take back the vote."

Wednesday's Washington March and Rally Itinerary

2:30-2:40 PM: Caravan assembles at COLUMBUS PLAZA (Across from Union Station) 

2:40 PM: March begins - heads up First St. to the U.S. Supreme Court

3:00-3:30 PM: US SUPREME COURT RALLY (1 First St, NE Washington, DC 20543) 

3:30-4 PM: March to CAPITAL BUILDING.

4:00 PM: U. S. CAPITAL RALLY (100 E Capitol St. NE Washington, DC 20003)

Celebrate the Poverty Initiative's 10th Anniversary!

PI 10th Anniversary2014-2015 is the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary's 10th Anniversary Year. For a decade, the Poverty Initiative has been helping to raise up a network of leaders dedicated to building a social movement to end poverty led by the poor. Born out of two remarkable legacies: the 177  year heritage of Union's social justice ministries and the unfinished business of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, our model and inspiration has always been to connect with the heroes and heroines fighting on the frontlines of the struggle to reignite King's Poor People's Campaign. As economic conditions continue to grow more desperate, King's vision of uniting the poor across lines of division to end poverty becomes more important than ever.
Join us for an evening cultural celebration of these ten years and our continuing work of a movement breaking through.

Thu, 24 Apr, 2014 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM 
James Chapel 
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 

Registration is required RSVP online

Gifts to the Poverty Initiative 10th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign may be made here: povertyinitiative.org/donate

Why We Unite with the Moral Mondays Movement

Why We Unite with the Moral Mondays Movement
The Kairos Center and the Poverty Initiative
At Union Theological Seminary
February 2014
On Saturday, February 8, 2014, the Kairos Center and the Poverty Initiative will bring over 70 leaders to the Moral March in Raleigh, North Carolina organized by our sisters and brothers of Historic Thousands on Jones Street who have been leading the Moral Mondays struggle.  Our delegation will include leaders from the Domestic Workers United (NYC), United Workers (Baltimore, MD), Vermont Workers Center, Picture the Homeless (NYC), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Student Labor Action Movement (NYU), Alabama Fisheries Cooperative (Bayou La Batre, AL), National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), religious leaders from Union Theological Seminary, Union Forum, Middle Collegiate Church, Auburn Theological Seminary, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Auburn Theological Seminary / Groundswell, Judson Memorial Church, Riverside Church, Occupy Faith, the Micah Institute, independent media makers, labor unions including United Federation of Teachers, SEIU, National Writers Union, and many, many more.
The Kairos Center and the Poverty Initiative unite with the leaders of the Moral Mondays on understanding poverty in the United States as a moral issue.  
In these times when the ranks of the poor grow in the face of abundance, and the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a few, the Poverty Initiative and the Kairos Center believe it is necessary to build a broad social movement to abolish poverty.  Poverty is intrinsically linked to the range of challenges our families, communities, and nation face.  For instance, the attack on voting rights happening in North Carolina is calculated to disenfranchise the poor across color lines, and is an affront to our country's claim to be a democratic nation.
The first step in building today's movement is to unite the leaders of what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr called "the poor and dispossessed of this nation."  Dr. King goes on to say, "...  If [the poor and dispossessed] can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life..."  We see Moral Mondays as one of the most significant things happening in this country right now that contains the seeds to build the movement to abolish poverty. 
The Kairos Center and Poverty initiative unite with Moral Mondays in its declaration that the concern for justice – what God requires – is a public matter.  As Rev. William Barber, NAACP North Carolina chair and Moral Mondays leader, puts it, “It is not about right or left; it’s about right or wrong.”  It is said that Rev. Barber cannot be found without his Bible and a copy of the US Constitution.  Across the nation and world we are seeing outbreaks as communities and congregations respond to healthcare crises, low wages and unfair labor conditions. All of these social ills of poverty plaguing the families and communities of our divided nation have found expression in North Carolina, and its people are responding across lines of difference.  
The Moral Mondays movement has proven itself to be rooted in faith and a belief in human rights and democracy that is genuinely connected to the people of this country in our sacred tradition of struggle for justice  - from the American Revolution to the Abolitionist Movement to the Civil Rights Movement.
What is the Moral Mondays Movement?

The "Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People's Assembly" is the force behind Moral Mondays.  Jones Street is a reference to the state capital in Raleigh, NC.  To date, more than 900 people have committed acts of civil disobedience at the state capital.  "Members from the more than 125 North Carolina State Conference NAACP branches, youth councils, high school and college chapters from the four corners of the state and members and friends of over 150 other social justice organizations make up the HKonJ People's Assembly."   From the original 17 arrested at the state capital on April 29, 2013 the Moral Mondays arrests have surpassed 900 to date.  These unsung saints are  “North Carolinians who choose nonviolent civil disobedience in the face of an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten healthcare, education, voting rights, especially the poor, African-Americans, Latinos, women, seniors and students.”
What is Moral Mondays fighting for? Though they say they started as a resistance movement (“a struggle against”) they have evolved into a movement with an alternative vision and a program ("a movement for"). They have identified five principles that are “bigger than Democrat or Republican but good for the whole”: 1. Economic sustainability and ending poverty; 2. Education equality; 3. Healthcare for all; 4. Fairness in the criminal justice system; and 5. Voting Rights.
In conclusion, we unite with the Moral Mondays movement because we see the necessity to build a movement in this country - not just in North Carolina.  It is not enough to be an "ally" to our sisters and brothers of Moral Mondays.  We must see that their problems are our problems and our problems are their problems.  It is not possible for any of us, wherever we may be, to prevail over the injustices we face if we remain alone and isolated.  What we're up against is much too big and all-encompassing.  We must see, as Dr. King once said, "an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" - and an injury to one is an injury to all.
Our sisters and brothers in North Carolina, in their struggle, have emerged as leaders for us all.  We are reminded of the role that the Montgomery bus boycott played in the early days of the Civil Rights Movement.  It galvanized a movement but there would have been no movement to speak of had it remained in Montgomery.  If we know our history, we know it is not enough for us to mobilize to a one-day rally in Raleigh.  We must grasp the times in which live, and in so doing, we must see that a social movement is not only necessary...  it is possible.  Now is the time!
“Our preaching and teaching must address the injustices of poverty, domination, inequality, and denial of health care that still impacts our social reality.” – Rev. Dr. William Barber, II
The dispossessed of this nation—the poor, both white and Negro—live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize . . . against the injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty. There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life..."
- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Trumpet of Conscience (1967)
Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you? But to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly
 with God.”

Get on the Bus for the Moral March on Raleigh, NC!

Moral MarchGreetings from the Kairos Center and the Poverty Initiative:

Now is the time to reserve a seat on our bus from NYC to Raleigh to join the Moral March.  And spread the word to all of your friends, family, and other contacts.  

Moral March NYC Kairos Bus Registration

Reserve your seat on the bus from New York City to Raleigh, North Carolina for the Moral March by filling out this registration form by Friday, January 24:


Download flyer [pdf]

We will leave from Union Theological Seminary (3041 Broadway @ 121st Street NYC) on Friday February 7th in the early morning at 6:00 am and it will take us to Raleigh (10 hr bus ride)–arriving Friday late afternoon / early evening.

The March itself is on Saturday February 8th at 10:00 am. We will participate and then get back on the bus in the middle of the afternoon to head back to NYC, arriving late at night of the 8th / early morning of the 9th.


Join the Kairos Center e-news


Let Moral Mondays know you're coming.


Spread the Word on Facebook

Join the Facebook event

Put the Moral March Facebook Banner or Profile Picture on Your Facebook Page


Join the conversation on Twitter

Tweet a photo of why you're marching on Feb. 8 for a chance to be featured in the NC NAACP daily countdown on the Facebook page and HKonJ blog

Tag #MoralMarch @ncnaacp




Whether your getting on the bus or not, we ask you to consider supporting this mobilization by donating to the effort.  It is very much appreciate and will help to guarantee we are able to support the participation of a diverse delegation of community, low-income, faith leaders, and other folks to this important event. You can make a contribution via the Poverty Initiative either online or by mail:

Donate online at povertyinitiative.org/donate to make your tax deductible donation with a credit card on Union's secure server - just select "Poverty Initiative" in the "Designation" pull-down menu after you enter the amount of your donation. You can make a one time or recurring donation (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually).

Or make checks payable to "Union Theological Seminary." Please enter "Poverty Initiative" in the memo line can be mailed to: Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

If you should have any questions or other ideas, please don't hesitate to be in touch with the Kairos Center / Poverty Initiative.

Phone: 212.280.1439

E-mail: info@kairoscenter.org 


PI Launches $10 for 10 Sustainers Campaign

In celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Poverty Initiative, we are excited to announce our $10 for 10 Sustainers Campaign

In just a few weeks, we have reached 33 sustainers who have committed to giving a monthly gift between $5 and $100. This important and growing sustainable source of support equals nearly $7,000 in annual giving. And we're just getting started! We will continue our campaign as we build toward our 10th Anniversary Concert and Celebration on April 24, 2014.
Become a sustainer!
Please help us move into our next decade of work with your monthly gift today!  Your sustainership serves as both a contribution to the monthly costs of our Poverty Initiative, as well as a reminder of your belief in a collective vision of a world without poverty. 

Please share the news of our $10 for 10 Sustainers Campaign and ask others to join us! 

If you have any questions or ideas of how we might grow our campaign, please do not hesitate to contact Dawn Plummer (dawn@povertyinitiative.org) or Shailly Barnes (shaillybarnes@gmail.com).

With love and gratitude,

Dawn, Shailly and all of us at the Poverty Initiative

December 10th: Celebrating Healthcare is a Human Right Movement

Celebrating the Growing Healthcare Is a Human Right Movement:

An evening in honor of Vermont Human Rights Leader Peg Franzen

With Laura Flanders, Founder and Host GRITtv.org

Special Video Tributes from Senator Bernie Sanders and Ben & Jerry

December 10th, 7 pm, Church Center for the United Nations

777 United Nations Plaza, New York

On Human Rights Day we celebrate the growing movement for health care as a public good and human right. We invite you to join us and Laura Flanders for a dialogue about innovative campaigns to go beyond Obamacare, pioneered in Vermont, Maryland, Maine, and Pennsylvania.

We will honor one of the movement’s most inspiring human rights leaders, the late Peg Franzen, former president of the Vermont Workers’ Center, who exemplifies the power of people to effect change. The Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign made Vermont the first state in the country to pass a law for a universal, publicly financed health care system.

We will be joined by representatives from the Healthcare Is a Human Right campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Vermont, which collectively form the vanguard of a new human rights movement for universal health care. 

We hope you will join us for this celebration!

Reception at 7 pm

Wine, tapas and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be served.  

To RSVP visit www.nesri.org/2013HumanRightsDayEvent

For further information, contact Laura Gosa at laura@nesri.org

Hosted by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI) and the Poverty Initiative at Union Theological Seminary.  

The event is sponsored by:


  • Ben and Jerry’s Foundation 
  • Center for Constitutional Rights 
  • Center for Popular Democracy 
  • Center for Reproductive Rights 
  • Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Rutgers University
  • Discount Foundation 
  • ESCR-Net
  • Family Values at Work 
  • Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 
  • Healthcare for the 99%
  • Healthcare NOW!-NYC
  • Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School
  • IWHRC at CUNY Law School
  • Jobs With Justice 
  • Johnson Family Foundation 
  • Leitner Center for International Law and Justice
  • Ms. Foundation 
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice 
  • United Workers Congress
  • Unity 
  • US Human Rights Network 


Celebrating the launch of Kairos: The Center on Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary

As the Poverty Initiative celebrates 10 years of raising up religious and community leaders in the movement to end poverty, we are excited to announce the launch of Kairos*: The Center on Religions, Rights and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary. 

We invite you to join us! Register today

November 15, 2013

9:00 am - 9:00 pm

Union Theological Seminary

New York City, NY


We will gather with scholars and activists from struggles around the globe to look at the positive and negative roles religion plays in the fight for dignity, freedom and justice.

Participants will include Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock (Ebenezer Baptist Church), Abdullahi An-Na’im (Emory University School of Law), Rev. Jennifer Butler (Faith in Public Life), Rachel Feldman (Bend the Arc), Martin Johnstone (Church of Scotland), Albert Ngubane (Abahlali baseMjondolo or the South African Shackdwellers Movement), leaders from Nuns on the Bus,  Rev. William Barber II (Moral Mondays Movement), Poverty Initiative Poverty Scholars organizations, and many more.

The day long symposium will conclude with a reflection and celebration of the sources of hope for the realization of the new reality that is struggling to be born.

Background on Kairos:

We live in a time of tremendous possibility but also great peril for the dignity and rights of people around the globe, a time that demands decisive action based on serious reflection and analysis.  Waves of mass movements--the 2008 global food riots, the Arab Spring and the 2011 Occupy protests--have given dramatic voice to widespread popular demands for dignity and rights.

Kairos: the Center on Religion, Rights and Social Justice aims to strengthen a mutually beneficial and reinforcing relationship between the world’s religions and the global struggle for human rights by challenging the efforts which seek to create conflict between them. Through rigorous scholarship, applied research, and reciprocal education and practice with scholars and movement leaders, it works to contribute to urgently needed transformative movements for social change that can draw on the strengths of both religions and human rights. 

* Kairos is an ancient Greek word for a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action; the opportune and decisive moment; also a moment when the eternal breaks into history.

Poverty Initiative

at Union Theological Seminary
3041 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 280-1439