PPEHRC Poor Peoples March on Washington

Tiny - Posted on 07 July 2018

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC) is a movement that is based in Philadelphia and is run by formerly homeless, poor and currently homeless people like us here at Poor Magazine. They are fighting for equal rights for poor, homeless and disabled people like themselves because they know how it is to be in that situation. PPEHRC has roots dating back to Martin Luther King but was founded in 1998 when the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) lead a bus tour to bring to the forefront the issues that poor and homeless people face. In October of that year, there was a summit lead by the KRWU that included all of the people involved with the tour. In that summit, PPEHRC was born.


The Poor People’s March on Washington is PPEHRC’s honoring of the Poor People’s Campaign led by Martin Luther King Jr. fifty years ago in 1986. It was a ten-day march starting in Philadelphia on June 2nd and ending in Washington D.C on June 12th. The march was extremely healing and passionate. We didn't sleep in Hotels or even houses along the way, no we slept in the basements of an assortment of different churches along Philadelphia, Maryland and Washington D.C. We ate what the churches provided us, sat on the street for breaks, and talked and laughed and sung and danced.


Marching all that way was an honestly amazing experience and I cannot stress that enough. We walked along highways, up hills, through suburbs, and through small towns. I was pushing my Uncle Leroy Moore co-founder of Krip-Hop Nation. He is one of my favorite people to hang out with and so we had fun talking and listening to music on my speaker. We got to know everyone marching with us, because going through an experience like that with someone creates a bond with that person, whether you just met them or knew them your entire life.  


One of the best parts of that march was interacting with the man who was directing the march, someone who was lovingly called Sarge by the group. He would order and boss me around and get frustrated with me but it wasn't stressful or irritating because I knew how he was feeling and that made it easier in a way to march all that way.


When we got to D.C, we set up Resurrection City, a homeless encampment/ place for us to say in a park by the name of Dupont Circle. The first day of arriving in Dupont Circle, was unsuccessful, due to the fact that the annual Pride Parade was being hosted by the actual park, so it was the epicenter of the parade. We drove to the church we were staying a mile from the park, and the next day we started setting up the city.


After we set up the city, we went over to the office of the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) and requested a meeting with Dr. Ben Carson, the head man in charge of housing. We were asking that he would not completely get rid of Section 8, a program that made it possible for poor people to have access to housing. The reason we are asking him to not get rid of this is that he and HUD are already in the process of slowly kicking out everyone who lives in Section 8 in California, including most of our friends and family.


I don’t want to say that it went terribly because that would be an overstatement, but when we refused to leave until they gave us a meeting they arrested the leader of our group, Cheri Honkala. That experience was somewhat stressful, but she was let out within the next 2 hours. That day made a slight mark, it showed people that we were serious about what we were pledging for and not just doing this whole thing for attention. It showed that we were willing to put ourselves in actual danger for the homeless and poor community.


All in all, the Poor People’s March on Washington was something that I will never forget. The MArch really made me enjoy who I am and made me feel good about myself because in those moments, those days and weeks, I felt like I was apart of something bigger than myself, that I was apart of something that will change this world for the better.


Sign-up for POOR email!