Georgetown, Texas – Over 40 organizations led by the Texas Poor People’s Campaign (and Rev. William Barber shown above) completed the first leg of their 27-mile Moral March for Democracy from Georgetown to Austin. Hundreds of people of all ages, races, religions and sexual orientations joined the march, wearing masks and social-distancing. Other people registered, but the crowd was restricted so the marchers could follow COVID-19 protocols.
“We are having this march from Georgetown to Austin for a moral resurrection,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach.
The campaign held the march to demand that Congress: end the filibuster; pass all provisions of the For the People Act; fully restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965; raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and offer permanent protections, dignity, and respect for all 11 million undocumented immigrants. It is demanding that these laws be passed before Aug. 6, the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act.
“We need federal legislation. The Senate must act now. Extremists attempt to suppress the vote, healthcare and immigration reform. This is an attempt to have a policy/political resurrection after a failed violent physical insurrection of Jan. 6,” Rev. Barber said.
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign and director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, said people are marching “because we the people must stand up for democracy and economic justice. Marching from Georgetown, we remember Jessie Daniel Ames, a suffragist and civil rights leader from Texas who helped build an anti-lynching movement in the American South. And two days after his passing, we carry on the work and legacy of Bob Moses who gave his life for freedom and dignity for all.”
Rev. Barber took a break from the march to talk with Texas Democratic legislators who fled to Washington D.C., to prevent a quorum on another bill to restrict voting rights. They encouraged people to attend a rally planned for Saturday, July 31, at the state Capitol in Austin and plan to release a joining statement of support, he said.
Throughout the march Wednesday, members of the Poor People’s Campaign, along with various partners provided important statements:
“It’s not about us, but it’s about the clergy engaging their people yet again. When we get the clergy out in front, then our members follow. We cannot spell community without the word ‘unity.’ That’s why it takes [everyone] … you all are human, and we need to fight for our rights, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Rev. Michael Cooper, president of the Beaumont chapter of the NAACP.
“I’m marching because my people have been hurt, somebody has been hurting my people and I’m not going to stay silent anymore. We’re out here for this moral resurrection. We’re letting, not just Texas know, but the entire United States government know, that we have demands,” said Rev. Stephanie Wilkins, tri-chair of the Texas Poor People’s Campaign.
“It’s been an incredible morning to have walked so far for so much and the diversity and the opportunity to make change. We want to encourage everyone that is concerned about making this a more perfect union – do your part now but from wherever they are; they can call senators; they can call congress people. Passing $15, passing the For The People act, and ending the filibuster makes this a better democracy, and we can do it now. We can’t wait, no more compromise, let’s do it now,” added Bishop Travis Grant, national field director of Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
“I’m out here marching because I support the right to vote for everyone, for every eligible voters in this state and in this country. And I recognize that if we don’t fight for it, if we don’t stand up to be counted, then we might very well lose it, and we might lose it forever. We’ll get there, but it’s going to take all of us to do it,” said Beto O’Rourke, founder of Powered by People.
The Moral March began with a rally and a church service on July 27. The first leg of the march took place over 8 miles from Georgetown to Round Rock, Texas. The rest of the week’s schedule follows below:
7 a.m. CT: March starts at Good Hope Baptist Church, 207 Chisholm Trail, Round Rock, TX 78681.
2 p.m. CT: March ends at North Austin Muslim Community Center, 11900 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753.
7 a.m. CT: March starts at North Austin Muslim Community Center, 11900 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753.
2 p.m. CT: March ends at University Baptist Church, 2130 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78705.
7 a.m. CT: March starts at University Baptist Church, 2130 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX 78705.
10 a.m. CT: Mass rally at the Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701.
To follow the activities remotely, view the livestream.