Trenton church hosts NJ Poor People’s Campaign Rally

March 12, 2024 | | Journey of Hope, GNJ News

“This Saturday in downtown Trenton, amidst our state capital’s decay and abandonment, the sound of the sweet voices of the Solidarity Singers floated out of the Turning Point (United) Methodist Church sanctuary carrying a gospel of possibility in the face of a cold hard rain.”

That’s how reporter Bob Hennelly begins his March 3 Insider NJ story about the New Jersey Poor People’s Campaign that came to historic Turning Point UMC in Trenton March 2. They net there because a steady rain prevented them from rallying outdoors at the state capitol rally as planned. The Rev. Rupert Hall, pastor and one of three co-chairs of the activist group, welcomed and spoke to nearly 200 attendees from across the state.

“Somebody’s blaming poor people and it’s gone on far too long, it’s gone on far too long…and we won’t be silent anymore,” sang the Solidarity Singers accompanied by instruments and hand-clapping. The rally was the launch a 40-week campaign to “motivate and inspire well over a million low wealth and low wage voters in the state” to vote in November, since far too many don’t avail themselves of that basic, potentially life-changing civil right.

Similar rallies were held that day in many other state capitols, including Harrisburg, PA, and in the nation’s capital, as part of the popular, nationwide campaign led by the Rev. William Barber and others.

“We are challenging poverty and low wages for we know that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in America… (and) 800 people each day die due to poverty,” Hall told the racially diverse crowd of activists.  “If poor and low wage people voted at the same rate as others, every political calculation would shift.

The Rev. Rupert Hall, pastor of Turning Point UMC in Trenton and one of three co-chairs of the NJ Poor Peoples Campaign.

“The Rev. Martin Luther King at the end of the Selma to Montgomery March said the great fear of the greedy aristocracy in the nation was for the masses of Negroes and poor Whites to come together and form a voting block that could change the economic architecture of the nation,” he continued.

“Poverty and low wages are bad political choices and we cannot be disengaged from the political process…We are not just representing the poor and low wage (potential voters); but we are standing up for people that think they are middle class—people that are one paycheck away from a problem.”

Read more of Hall’s statement and Hennelly’s entire article about the rally and the inequity of wealth and poverty in New Jersey in “Thirteen Miles from Princeton: The Gospel of Possibility.” Also, view video coverage of Halls’ statement and the NJ Poor People’s Campaign Mass Assembly in Trenton on YouTube.