African American Faith Leaders Join Occupy Movement: Announce Occupy the Dream
A group of African American faith leaders announced a major new campaign on December 14th -- Occupy the Dream. Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant will serve as the National Spokesperson of Occupy the Dream and Rev. Dr. Benjaman Chavis will serve as National Director. Russell Simmons, entertainment entrepreneur, joined the press conference via a video as he was in Australia. The group will focus on poverty, jobs and ending the unfair wealth divide.
Occupy the Dream was announced at a press conference at the National Press Club. The group plans a series of mobilizations to bring African American faith institutions to work in coalition with the Occupy Movement. The first will be a national mobilization on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's brthday fcocusing on the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Oakland, Los Angeles and Boston. They plan to bring crutches, canes, wheel chairs and casts to Federal Reserve offices across the country and dump them on their door step to show how the bankers have crippled the economy.
Kevin Zeese with Rev. Benjamin Chavis.
This is a welcome addition to the Occupy Movement that will bring millions of people to the effort to end economic insecurity and the wealth divide. When I attended the press conference I spoke about how when we began working on this movement in April we hoped that people occupying public space would inspire others to join us in their own ways to challenge the wealth divide. The creativity and comment of different people will result in a more powerful movement that cannot be ignored.
In announcing Occupy the Dream the group pointed out that the average income of the top 1% is $1.2 million a year while the broad middle class and disadvantaged struggle to buy food, pay rent ad find a job. In this $14 trillion economy, the largest economy in the world, poverty is growing. This is a human tragedy."
Rev. Bryant heads the AME Empowerment Temple Church in Baltimore, MD. Rev.Chavis is a civil rights icon who served under Dr. King and served as executive director of the NAACP and was the national director of the Million Man March.
Video of the Press Conference
Below is a statement from Occupy Wall Street:
Occupy the Dream Campaign
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for social and economic justice with a deep moral commitment to non-violent civil disobedience. His legacy inspires many of us on the front lines of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Nearly fifty years since hundreds of thousands of people marched with Dr. King and filled the nation's capital, the dream that inspired our nation remains unfulfilled. As shocking as it is to believe, there is a more severe inequality of wealth in the United States today than there was back then. More Americans are living in poverty today than when Dr. King organized the Poor People's Campaign.
While the rich have grown richer, tens of millions of Americans have been exploited and left behind. In a time of great wealth and technological advancement, American families are desperately struggling to get by and to make ends meet.
Our political, economic, and legal systems have become wholly corrupted through a system of political bribery. Through campaign finance, lobbying, and the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, our wealth has been consolidated into the hands of the few at the expense and suffering of the many. Many of our brothers and sisters lead lives dominated by fear. Fear of losing a home. Fear of losing a job. Fear of losing medical coverage. Fear of losing the ability to provide food for our families. And for far too many, these fears have already become a reality.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is about people coming together to say “enough is enough.” Our families have endured economic oppression for too long. The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government.
Dr. King’s vision of economic justice is an edifying example of what we intend to achieve. The Occupy movement has become a powerful force by occupying communities throughout the country. The time has now come for us to embody the spirit of Dr. King and for us to “Occupy the Dream.”
We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African-American Faith community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice. We are all in this fight together. We all want a healthy and secure future for our families. In the absence of a government that will defend and represent us, we are now taking it upon ourselves to stand up and defend our own families.
It is a great honor today to join with the spirit of Dr. King, to join with heroes of the civil rights movement, luminaries of the faith community, pioneers in music and all of you in attendance.
It is a great honor today to announce the birth of the “Occupy the Dream” movement.
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