Worker Justice

WJW Logo

Poor People’s Campaign: Clergy, Poverty, Justice, and their Intersections

By Rev. Ari Douglas (they/them), FCC (DOC) of Janesville, WI

"Often we hear about workers, the poor, and clergy organizing together. Rarely do we hear about clergy being workers, or clergy being the poor. I have been both clergy and a worker and clergy and poor."

Rev. Ari Douglas (they/them)

Often we hear about workers, the poor, and clergy organizing together. Rarely do we hear about clergy being workers, or clergy being the poor. I have been both clergy and a worker and clergy and poor.

I have worked as a teacher’s assistant and in home aid while pursuing my ordination. I have worked in fast food, teaching, and as a campaign organizer following my ordination. I have lived in deep poverty in childhood and as an adult. I know the struggle of the worker and the poor not simply as an ally but because I have experienced it.

Of course, as an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I speak from experience but also from scripture. In Hebrew scripture it speaks of a time of Jubilee when all debts were forgiven and land was redistributed. The Prophets spoke against unjust laws and preached care of widows, orphans, and immigrants. In the Gospels, Jesus spoke in a parable. Jesus said that there were workers who all went to labor in a vineyard; some went early, others late but they were all paid what they needed. They were paid what they needed because they were organized. They were in step with one another.

It may sound ridiculous to some, but that’s what being in step looks like. We fight alongside one another, we labor together, we organize and we get into step together.

In the United States, as of July 2020, 9.2% (11.4 million) of White workers, 14.6% (2.9 million) of Black workers, and 12% (1.2 million) of Asian workers were unhoused. Meanwhile in Wisconsin we have over 2 million poor and low income workers and the richest billionaires are poised to become trillionaires.

It is time to proclaim Jubilee. It is time for the poorest workers among us to be heard like the Prophets of Hebrew scripture. It is time for us like the workers in the vineyard to organize and get into step.

June 18th we assemble and march to summon the moral will to declare that there is a better way. There are abundant resources to meet our needs. All we need to do is summon our collective political will, and so we march. We assemble and march to realize the third reconstruction agenda that can build this country from the bottom up. We do this because when we lift from the bottom, everyone rises.

Join us for this generationally transformative declaration of the power of the poor and low wealth people and our moral allies to say that the system is killing all of us and we can’t, we won’t, we refuse, to be silent anymore: www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/june18 

For more information Rev. Ari Douglas can be reached at c.douglaspsalm85@gmail.com 

*Worker Justice Wisconsin is a mobilizing partner of the Poor People’s Campaign