Jewish & Christian leaders from POWER unite for “Holy Weekend” march which also coincides with the 47th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition demands include jobs and an increase in minimum wage.
MLK DARE Coalition Plans “Poor Peoples March” for Saturday, April 4th at 1pm, at 3259 N Broad St, Philadephia.
Passover and Easter this weekend will be very different for many of the Jewish and Christian members of the interfaith community organizing group POWER (www.powerphiladelphia.org). This Saturday, April 4th, the first day of Passover and the day before Easter, POWER clergy leaders and members of their congregations will join the MLK DARE (Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment) Coalition in a march for:
~$15 minimum wage,
~ stronger protections for those seeking to unionize, and
~ a call for full employment.
Saturday’s march will begin with a rally at 1 pm at New Vision United Methodist Church at the corner of N. Broad and Westmoreland Streets. Several hundred people will come together calling for an end to systemic and institutionalized poverty in America’s poorest big city on the day that Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. was assassinated.
”If you recall, Dr. King was in Memphis to organize on behalf of sanitation workers,” says Bishop Dwayne Royster, Executive Director of POWER and pastor of Living Water UCC. “This march on Saturday will call attention to the unfinished business of economic dignity.”
Following the rally at New Vision UMC, the crowd will take to the streets marching up Broad Street past Zion Baptist Church, home of the late Rev. Leon Sullivan. “We wanted to ensure that we touch on the legacy of Rev. Sullivan,” says Bishop Royster. “No one in the previous generation did as much as he did to push for an end of poverty by gainful employment.” The rally will end at Broad and Erie Streets where there will be a public demonstration with several speakers from the Coalition.
POWER is marching with the MLK DARE Coalition, a group made up of dozens of grassroots community organizing activists. MLK DARE organized the huge demonstration in January which brought out more than 7,000 people. Then, the coalition demands centered on jobs, justice, and education funding.
While the group remains committed to bringing about meaningful change in all three of these areas, Saturday’s march will focus on economic dignity. “We are joining the call for $15 an hour as a minimum wage; however, many experts say that is still not enough to live in a city like Philadelphia,” says one of the march organizers, the Rev. Greg Holston, pastor of New Vision United Methodist Church, a POWER congregation. “The call for $15 an hour just starts the conversation, but we’ve got a long way to go for Philadelphia to come out of the shadow of deep poverty.”
This year’s march comes at an important time for Jewish and Christian members of POWER. While the MLK Dare Coalition is not specifically a faith movement, many of those involved are members of POWER congregations. Saturday, April 4th is the first day of Passover and the day before Easter – a time when many in their respective faith traditions will be preparing for these special days.
However, coalition members say the time is right to raise social consciousness. “We are putting feet to our faith,” says Rabbi Julie Greenberg, from Congregation Leyv-Ha-Ir-“Heart of the City”, quoting the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who marched with Dr. King. Rabbi Greenberg adds “Freedom from the Pharaoh’s of poverty and humiliation is an essential message of this Jewish holy day. Freedom to live a life of dignity is what the Passover story is all about. I will be marching as an expression of what the biblical story of Exodus means today.”
All of the MLK DARE Coalition planning meetings have taken place at historic Mother Bethel AME Church. “Marching on this day is not contradictory with our faith, it is consistent with it” says Pastor Mark Tyler, from Mother Bethel, a POWER congregation. “People of faith were not called to be thermometers, just reporting the temperature outside. Rather, we have been called to be thermostats to change the atmosphere through the power of faith.”
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