Reverend Graylen Scott Hagler, Co-chair of the Washington DC chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign, and Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in Washington, DC discuss the “Poor Peoples Campaign,” initially formed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and its relevancy to the Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s 2020 Black History Month theme: African Americans and the Vote.
As we celebrate Black History Month, and focus on the different issues surrounding the importance of African Americans and the Vote, we are reminded of the need for the Poor Peoples Campaign, and the need to keep the issues of the campaign at the forefront of the political platform. Rev. Hagler, a co-chair the Washington, DC Chapter of the Campaign discusses the continued need for a campaign that represents the concerns of those who are without voice.
Rev. Hagler has been deeply involved in civil rights activities from the beginning of his ministry up to the present. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, an institution that played an integral part in the Civil War and was part of the Underground Railroad. He attended the Chicago Theological Seminary during a time when the city was in serious upheaval. From Chicago, to Boston, to Washington, D.C. he has spoken truth to power in the great tradition of Old Testament Prophets, of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Rev. William Barber of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign. He has protested injustices against blacks and Latinos, confronted corporations on hiring practices, and challenged local governments’ systemic injustices, including those of police departments. Rev. Hagler has marched, organized coalitions, and been arrested, all the while continuing to be a voice of distributive justice and compassion in the rich and progressive tradition of non-violence.