Thursday, March 15, 2018

Commission to End Poverty in Memphis Forms

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, director of the Starks Institute
  • Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, director of the Starks Institute


The Memphis Theological Seminary in partnership with the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign announced Thursday a new effort to “abolish poverty” in the city.


The seminary's Henry Logan Starks Institute for Faith, Race, and Social Justice, along with the Poor People’s Campaign will establish the Truth Commission, as a part of the new national Poor People’s Campaign, A National all for a Moral Review.


The commission will document and study human rights violations in the Memphis area. Types of violations will include environmental degradation, criminalization of the poor, neighborhood gentrification, living wages, quality education, and health care issues.

Edie Love with the Tennessee Poor People’s Campaign said these all fall under the four main evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, militarism, ecological devastation, and distorted moral narratives.


The goal of the commission will be to unite as many people as possible to do “direct moral action,” putting pressure on state government to change policies that “benefit the wealthy, while exploiting everyone else.”


“The evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together,” Love said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “You can’t get rid of one without getting rid the others. The whole structure of America must be changed.”


This can’t be done without a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.”


From now until Thursday, March 22, the commission will be collecting “truth stories” of how poverty has directly affected people’s lives here. The commission will present the most “egregious” stories of poverty on Saturday, March 24 so that the stories can be acknowledged by the entire state. Stories can be shared on the Poor People’s Campaign website.

Dr. Rosalyn Nichols, director of the Starks Institute said as the city commemorates the 1968 sanitation workers and the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death, “we continue to be challenged by Dr. King’s question: ‘Where do we go from here?’”


“The reality of what was left undone in the aftermath of April 4, 1968, still confronts us,” Nichols said. “The question is will we grieve and commiserate or take up the charge and strategize.”


Dr. Elena Delavega, assistant professor of social work at the University of Memphis and author of the The Poverty Report: Memphis Since MLK was also at the press conference. Poverty affects everyone in Memphis, she said.


“The reality is we’re all going to pull together, or we’re not going to pull out,” Delavega said. “Just as we have policies that promote poverty, we can have policies that destroy poverty.”


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