Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Poor People’s Campaign march (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — It’s the fifth Monday that Bishop John Selders and a group of community advocates gathered outside the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to reignite the Poor People’s Campaign.

Just like the original Poor People’s Campaign, the 1968 movement started by Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. and others to challenge racism, poverty and militarism, the campaign lead by Selders seeks to empower the community to have some say about why types of policies are made at the state Capitol. 

“Fifty years later guess what? We didn’t fix it,” Bishop John Selders said. “Race is still a problem in this country. Poverty is still a problem in this country. The war economy is still a problem in this country.”

Selders said that they need to spend more time on the problems than a “certain person’s Tweet.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Bishop John Selders (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Each protest the group has held has a different theme and this week’s theme was the minimum wage.

In Connecticut, 524,000 workers earn under $15 an hour, according to the group. 

Earlier this year, the General Assembly failed to increase the $10.10 minimum wage this year in a closely divided House and an evenly divided Senate. When the legislative dust cleared, a proposal to increase Connecticut’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020 failed to gain any traction and never made it to a vote in either chamber.

“Let’s be honest $15 an hour ain’t gonna really get it. It’s just starting to get at it,” Selders said. “We need something more like $25 or $30.”

Selders said with 42 percent of the residents considered poor or low-income “somebody is making money and somebody ain’t making money.”

The U.S. Census says Connecticut’s poverty rate is 9.8 percent.

Over the last four weeks dozens have been arrested at similar rallies across the country, including those held in Connecticut. Eight people were arrested Monday in Hartford when the march got to Broad Street.

But Monday’s march was about more than a minimum wage. It was about workers being treated fairly and being offered health benefits.

Stephanie Johnson, a nurse at Lawrence and Memorial Hospital and a member of AFT CT, said healthcare is a right.

“The way things are going it’s not a good thing,” Johnson said. “There’s gotta be a turn and there’s gotta be a change.”

A large number of labor leaders attended Monday’s rally. So did a handful of candidates who are running for office.

Rep. Antonio Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill and Rep. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, who are running against each other in a Democratic primary for Sen. Paul Doyle’s seat were there, along with Rep. William Tong, who is running for attorney general, and Jillian Gilchrest who is running against a Democratic incumbent for a state House seat in West Hartford.

They were some of the approximately 150 marchers.

Bishop Selders speaks outside the LOB with the Poor Peoples campaign

Bishop Selders speaks outside the LOB with the Poor Peoples campaign

Posted by on Monday, June 11, 2018