While the congresswoman was touring neighboring Fayette County, around 30 people gathered in front of U.S. Congresswoman Carol Miller’s Beckley office on Monday to present a list of policy priorities that will protect voters’ rights and the rights of Americans, event moderator Jean Evansmore of Scarbro said.
Evansmore and others presented the “14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation: A Moral and Economic Agenda for the First 100 Days” to Miller’s representative on behalf of The Poor People’s Campaign, a nonpartisan organization that supports voters’ rights, opposes systemic racism and seeks to uphold the rights of poor people due to spiritual, religious and moral convictions, according to the group’s website.
Jazz songstress Delores Fields, also known as “Lady D,” intoned a marching song as the small group approached Miller’s door with the requests.
“Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around, turn us around, turn us around,” sang Lady D. “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around; we’ll keep on walking, keep on talking, walking up to Miller’s place.”
Evansmore, 80, presented the document to Miller’s aide, who met her at the foyer of Miller’s headquarters. She said the document was also for Republican U.S. Reps. Alex Mooney (Kanawha) and David McKinley (Monongalia).
“It’s for all of the West Virginia representatives,” Evansmore told the aide. “Mooney, McKinley and Miller.
“I will refer to them as ‘the three M’s.’ They are the three M’s. They represent West Virginia. They represent me.
“I am a West Virginian, born and raised and moved back here,” she said, adding, “We really do appreciate you.”
The document calls for lawmakers to enact “free and just” Covid relief, to guarantee quality health care for all, regardless of pre-existing conditions, to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, to update the poverty measure to reflect current poverty conditions, to guarantee quality housing for all, to enact a federal job program to build up investments, infrastructure, climate resilience and other measures, to protect and expand voting rights and civil rights, to guarantee equality, quality education, for comprehensive and just immigration reform, to ensure the rights of Indigenous peoples, to enact fair taxes, to use the power of executive order to meet the demands, to redirect Pentagon spending toward the goals while ending the provision of military grade equipment and training to local and state law enforcement and to work with the Poor People’s Campaign to establish a permanent Presidential Council to advocate for the agenda.
Miller is a Republican who represents District 3. She supported former President Donald Trump. She is not in favor of an income tax increase on the wealthy but supports lowering corporate taxes, according to justfacts.votesmart.org.
When presenting the document, Evansmore asked that Miller keep the principles in mind while legislating.
The rally is one of at least 50 that occurred throughout the United States on Monday as part of The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
“Right now, our tax dollars are used to fund the military, the wealthy and corporations,” the West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign literature read. “To make the changes our country and all of us really need, we must mobilize our communities like never before.”
Evansmore said the Monday rally was held in Beckley in order to activate Beckleyans to join.
“It’s in Beckley because we don’t have Beckley people involved in The Poor People’s Campaign,” said Evansmore. “I talked to the members, and they agreed (that) we should go to Beckley.”
Two faith leaders — Rev. Ballard Johnson, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Beckley, and Dr. Joseph Golden, a retired physician who hosts an annual Holocaust Remembrance program — participated in the event, along with activist Thaddeus Breckenridge of Beckley.
Pam Garrison, tri-chair of the campaign, gave a motivational speech to the crowd.
Mike Slay, father of the local former professional basketball player and philanthropist Tamar Slay, heard speakers after he had gotten off work and was on his way to the post office on Main Street, he said.
“I seen them right there,” Slay said, indicating the gathering. “I thought it was a good movement, and I liked what they said.
“That’s why I’m here.”
Fields said the movement is for everyone.
“(The campaign) is representative of, I think, the bulk of average Americans because, technically, we’re pretty much all poor and can definitely relate to what’s happening and the actions that the Poor People’s Campaign is looking for.
“It just, to me, is common sense to be here.”
Evansmore said she has been a member of The Poor People’s Campaign for at least two years.
“What attracted me to it was the fact that this movement is organized, the fact that the information it puts out is thoroughly researched,” she said. “It’s a situation where we’re working to bring about change to help all people, no matter their race, religion, color, love, whatever.
“It’s about people, and we all work together, and we all work as one.
“That’s why this is going on in over 30 states.”
More information is available at www.poorpeoplescampaign.org