The West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign will march on the office of Senator Joe Manchin in Martinsburg next week.
Poor People’s Campaign national co-chairs the Reverend William J. Barber II and Reverend Liz Theoharis will attend parts of the march in West Virginia, including the kick off press conference Tuesday April 5 at 10 a.m. outside Storer College in Harper’s Ferry.
“Manchin’s unyielding attacks on the poor such as blocking living wages and refusing to support a bill that extends the tax credit that helps children or expand health care and ultimately carrying the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce rather than having compassion for the people of his state and the country – these are why West Virginia is our country’s Selma,” Bishop Barber said. “This is why we accepted the invitation from the West Virginia PPC to join this march and engage in direct action with poor and low-wealth people in the state where my grandfather was born.”
The organizers say that 40 percent of West Virginians — 700,000 people — are poor or low income.
Both Storer College and the town of Harpers Ferry are deeply connected to the civil rights movement. Storer was a historically Black college that opened in 1867 and served both Black and white students at times. It hosted the first American meeting of the Niagara Movement, the predecessor to the NAACP, in 1906.
Abolitionist Frederick Douglass described Harpers Ferry as the town where the end of American slavery began because John Brown tried to initiate a slave revolt there in 1859.
Poor People’s Campaign spokesperson Reverend Robin Tanner said that Senator Manchin has refused to meet with the leaders of the campaign to discuss their demands that he support Build Back Better, full voting rights and an end to the filibuster.
“Senator Manchin: You are willing to meet with corporate executives and political lobbyists,” campaign leaders wrote to Manchin last month. “Meet with us, some of the 340,000 low-wage workers in West Virginia and their families. We are suffering because the Senate could find trillions in less than two years for corporations, but can’t protect voting rights and invest a few trillion over ten years in the people.”
The protesters will march between 10 am and 1:30 pm on April 6, April 7, April 8 and meet in front of Senator Manchin’s office in Martinsburg on April 9 at 10 am.
On the way, they will join activists opposing the Rockwool facility in Jefferson County.
Tanner said that the marchers will also be raising the issue of Manchin’s profiting off a private coal company while blocking progress on environmental protection.
Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an expose titled – How Joe Manchin Aided Coal, and Earned Millions.
“At every step of his political career, Joe Manchin helped a West Virginia power plant that is the sole customer of his private coal business,” the Times reported. “Along the way, he blocked ambitious climate action.”
(Updated April 3, 2022 5:23 am.)