A photo of the White House
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A national coalition advocating for the rights of people living in poverty is calling on President Joe Biden to meet with its leaders ahead of its annual march on Washington on June 18. 

Drawing on inspiration from the civil rights era movement with the same name, The Poor People’s Campaign reorganized in 2018 to draw attention to issues related to poverty and systemic racism. Today, it is calling for the establishment of a federal minimum wage of at least $15, guaranteed housing and health care for all and expanded workers’ rights.

Bishop William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said a meeting would help draw attention to the 140 million poor and low-income people in America who are most affected by inflation, low wages and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe if most Americans actually knew what was going on, they would join even more in the moral outcry,” Barber said. 

Speaking from the historic National City Christian Church on June 6, Barber and co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis said the movement aims to reframe the national discussion around poverty and political action. 

Bishop criticized political apathy toward low-income voting blocks, arguing that many poor and low-income people don’t vote because political campaigns fail to center poverty as a priority in their platforms. 

“Whenever we start talking about this issue, the first thing that comes up [is], ‘Well, how much would it cost?’ rather than ‘How much does it cost for things to stay as they are?’” Barber said. “Every time we have debates about health care, living wages, we never put the face of the people — the stories — in the room.”

This is the group’s third request to meet with the president. In fall 2020, then-candidate Biden told members that his presidency would place emphasis on ending poverty, according to a news release

The Moral March on Washington and to the Polls will gather at 9:30 a.m. on June 18 on 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.