'Truth And Poverty Tour' Elevates The Voices Of Impoverished Mainers
The Maine chapter of the advocacy organization the Poor People’s Campaign held a statewide "Truth and Poverty Tour" on Saturday. The tour kicked off at the Raise-Op housing co-operative in Lewiston and had planned stops in Waterville and Bangor.
The Poor People’s Campaign originally began in 1968 and was organized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Today’s incarnation describes itself as a multicultural, multi-faith coalition with a focus on economic justice.
Organizers say that the Maine tour is intended to bring attention to the issues of impoverished Mainers and to elevate their voices.
Reverend Dr. Liz Theoharis is the national co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, and she joined the Maine chapter for Saturday’s events. The goal of the tour, she says, is to shine a light on the issues confronting impoverished Mainers.
“To be able to reach a greater and broader section of people, and to have folks from different parts of the state visit each other in their parts of the state, to make connections and to see their commonalities,” she says. “A lot of times, what happens is that folks think ‘well it’s only over here that this problem is happening.’ So having a chance for impacted folks from different parts of the state to be able to be in the reality of their neighbors’ lives is really important.”
One of the chairs of the Maine chapter is Matt Bear-Fowler. He says he is both an activist and a person who is impacted by poverty. He says that in addition to hearing from affected people, the tour can help connect community organizations across the state.
“We talk a lot about fusion in this movement, in which we get people together who are concerned with various issues and doing various kinds of work to build a stronger movement, and that’s kind of the big goal, the big feature of today,” he says.
At different stops, various people were given the opportunity to share their stories and network with community aid organizations.
“I’m glad to see it because I’ve been a low-income person my entire life,” says Lynnea Hawkins, of Lewiston. Hawkins is a member of Raise-Op, which has helped her secure housing.
“I’ve never been wealthy, so having the opportunity to have a little bit of input, and have people look at what it’s like to be a poor person is really awesome to me, because a lot of people have a lot ideas of what it means, but they don’t actually know what the experience is like,” she says.
Hawkins says she appreciates the Poor People’s Campaign because it gives people like her a chance to share their stories.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how different people in different places deal with being poor, and saying, ‘we’re people, just like everybody else,’” she says.