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Rally in Harrisburg to highlight struggles of low-income families

Written by Annette John-Hall/Keystone Crossroads | May 14, 2018 4:50 AM
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The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, second from left, and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, left, co-chairs of the Poor People's Campaign, speak at the National Civil Rights Museum on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(Harrisburg) -- After some of the civil rights victories of the 1960's Martin Luther King Jr. turned his focus to poverty, and launched the Poor People's Campaign to press for things like affordable housing and livable wages.

This afternoon, supporters of that vision will gather on the capitol steps in Harrisburg in an attempt to renew King's efforts.

For Nijmie Dzurinko, who chairs Pennsylvania's Poor People's Campaign, the struggle is real because she is only one missed paycheck from being poor herself.

"I don't have the means to go without working. If my income is stripped from me, then I have nothing," she said.

Today's rally is set to happen simultaneously in more than 30 state capitals across the nation with weekly events planned over the next six weeks.

Drurinko says the protests are designed to challenge a system that shames people into thinking that being poor is their fault.

"People who are poor and people who are homeless shouldn't be shamed," she said. "It's actually a shame of the system."

Almost 13 percent of Pennsylvanians live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census.

Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the nation, with a quarter of it's population living below the poverty line.

At the conclusion of the 40 days of nonviolent action, organizers say poor people, clergy and advocates from Pennsylvania and across the country will join together for a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. 

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