On December 4, 2017 in Washington DC, SANKOFA.ORG in partnership with The Kairos Center, Repairers of The Breach, Ben & Jerry’s and The Campaign For Black Male Achievement will take over the Howard Theatre for a movement concert for the new Poor People’s Campaign A National Call for A Moral Revival with performances by Maxwell, Aloe Blacc, Sweet Honey in the Rock, J. Period and Yara Allen. There will also be appearances by Van Jones, Poor People’s Campaign co-chairs Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis and Sankofa.org co-Director Gina Belafonte. The event is free, and the public can RSVP here http://bit.ly/2k7QpuE
This concert is part of the launch of the Campaign and coincides with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s initial call for the Poor People’s Campaign. It will be a night of reflecting on the legacy of Dr. King’s work and life and a recommitment to carry on the fight against poverty, racism, militarism, ecological devastation, and a false national morality. The entire show will be streamed live on Ben & Jerry’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The Campaign is co-chaired by Reverend Dr. William Barber of the Moral Mondays Movement of North Carolina and Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis, Co-Director of The Kairos Center and a Founder and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative. This national call for a moral revival is already supported by hundreds of organizations that have mobilized over the last few years for this moment.
“Nearly 50 years after Dr. King put out a call for a Poor People’s Campaign, Sankofa.org is honored to play a strategic role in reclaiming that call and narrative by producing this jubilee for his legacy and the start of the new Poor People’s Campaign. The amazing artists and leaders who are coming together for this event to honor the history of movement and artists as my father did many years ago, is humbling. Back then they understood the need to come together to make change happen. This is a legacy I am honored to be a part of in my continuing work to create platforms that bring movement and culture to community,” says Belafonte.
Fifty years ago, on December 4, 1967, the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. announced plans for a Poor People’s Campaign and called on the nation to take dramatic steps to end poverty and combat inequality. This multi-racial organizing effort and the dream of a fairer nation was assassinated along with Dr. King four months later to the day, on April 4, 1968.
“As our Theomusicologist Yara Allen has said, every movement must have a pulse and at its core, music that connects soul with spirit with strategy. A kind of movement ethos and provenance. We sing together because we stand together, we stand together because we struggle together and we won’t be silent anymore”, says Barber.
According to Current US Poverty Statistics nearly half of the US population is poor or low-income and 1 in 7 people live below the federal poverty line. Half of all children will qualify for food stamps before they turn 18, including 9 out of 10 African Americans. Millions live with the consequences of inadequate health care, housing, food, education, and employment, and with criminal justice and immigration systems that discriminate against people of color, perpetuate racial, ethnic and gender oppression, and penalize poor people, denying millions access to safety, equality and justice.
Founded by Harry Belafonte in 2013, Sankofa.org has been building a platform where influential artists and grassroots leaders can work collaboratively to speak out against human rights abuse and injustice. Sankofa.org partnered with Blackout for Human Rights on the successful “Justice For Flint” benefit concert, and worked with Usher on his groundbreaking “Chains” music video and racial justice campaign and collaborated with TIDAL for the first TIDAL X Festival that raised $1.5 million for social justice non-profits.
In 2016, Sankofa.org took on their most ambitious project yet, the Many Rivers to Cross Social Justice Music and Arts Festival, that included performances by artists including Dave Matthews, Public Enemy, Carlos Santana, John Legend, Common, Tip, Macklemore, Maxwell and Harry Belafonte; a Social Justice Village where an array of organizations provided materials to festival goers on key issue s , voter registration and talks that brought together activists and celebrities. Sankofa.org produces theater, PSA’s, films, documentaries, and numerous music videos and recordings to raise money for an under resourced social justice movements and campaigns. This year they released three videos previewing “Broken Windows” their first full-length charity album available in 2018.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival (#PoorPeoplesCampaign) has emerged from more than a decade of work by grassroots community and religious leaders, organizations and movements fighting to end systemic racism, poverty, militarism, environmental destruction and related injustices and to build a just, sustainable and participatory society. It draws on the history, vision and unfinished work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967/68 Poor People’s Campaign that called for a “revolution of values” in America, inviting people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”— systemic racism, poverty, and militarism – to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation to ever exist.