Martin Luther King's Poor People's Campaign

The recently issued report of the President's National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders declares as its basic conclusion: "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal". That prospect presents the gravest domestic danger to the traditions and structures of American democracy.

Unless our society keeps pace with the massive social and economic needs and the rising expectations of our deprived citizens, further polarizations of the American people will occur.

Americans need to know that there can be no law and order without law and justice. The ultimate protection of our cities is to be found not in armored cars, but in the righteous society. Prevention of riots by the fulfillment of rights should be our purpose; not to cool the ghetto but to transform it is our challenge.

The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference have announced a Poor People's Campaign in Washington to arouse the conscience of America to reconstruct our society in consonance with the democratic process. We join with Dr. King in renouncing violence as an instrument of change, and support his plan for a dramatization of the desperate conditions of the poor in rural areas and city ghettoes as expressed through the current Poor People's Campaign.

In the present climate of tension, citizens should be given every opportunity to petition for redress of their grievances. Society must recognize that non-violent demonstrations are a salutary alternative to self-defeating violence.

We have long held and deeply felt positions on the issues of poverty and racism—the root causes of tension and disorder in out society. The eradication of these twin evils calls for a comprehensive, coordinated approach of all segments of society, public and private, plus the investment of massive resources and, above all, a national commitment to achieve equality of treatment and economic well-being for all citizens.

We call upon the President and the Congress to exercise moral leadership by enacting legislation on jobs, civil rights, housing, education and welfare. We join with other like-minded groups in calling upon the American people to demonstrate their personal support and to invest what is needed to pay for these programs.

We urge our congregations to participate in active implementation of these goals and programs and to support the forthcoming Poor People's Campaign to the extent that it is consistent with our declared principles and policies.