22 September 1998
Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU) 

"What can we do? For the time being, simply show up—with 
our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds open." — Steve Earle 

  This is Steve's comment on the release that follows:

KWRU is the real revolution led by the very people it seeks to help (rather than middle class do-gooders like me).  They are poor people DEMANDING basic human rights.  Yes, folks, decent housing, education, nutrition and medical care are RIGHTS — not privileges.  My drug habit took me to the poorest neighborhood in Nashville everyday for five years (to find the drugs, you simply follow the desperation).  I never met a welfare queen.  I did see women struggling to raise children in an atmosphere devoid of hope and dreams. 

I will not be at the summit due to a previous commitment (over a year old) to play for the anti-landmine campaign in D.C., however, this won't be the last summit and I won't miss the next one.  If you believe, as I do, that it's a crime for anyone to go hungry in the richest country in the world, suit up and show up in Philly. 

This is the real deal, folks. 


Hosted by the Kensington Welfare Rights Union (KWRU), a Poor People's Summit will be held in Philadelphia the weekend of October 9-11.  Already, over one hundred poor people's organizations from all over the United States have committed themselves to come, as have several dozen "non-poor people's" organizations, such as organizations of social workers and student groups. 

There will be at least 40 workshops on a mind-boggling variety of topics pertaining to the struggle to end poverty, including a very important workshop on the strategic use of culture of all kinds. The workshop will give artists and cultural organizers a place to share their experiences and ideas and to establish networking mechanisms for the future. 

Could you please let either myself or Danny Alexander (913-631-5184; dalexand@gvi.net) know… 

...your thoughts on what should be included as part of the workshop. 

Can you attend the Summit? Can other artists and/or cultural organizers you know? 

While the media continue to promote the myth that the American economy is booming, the 80 million Americans living below the poverty line (which includes most artists, writers, and musicians) have a different story to tell.  A big part of that story is that poor people are organizing themselves, educating themselves, and speaking out very eloquently for themselves.  The Poor People's Summit will provide an important opportunity for the rapidly growing number of poor people's organizations to coalesce into a full-fledged movement to end poverty for once and for all. 

It's also of the greatest importance to have people from ALL walks of life at the Summit.  First of all, even those of us still making a decent living are only one or two paychecks (or tours, or grants) away from poverty ourselves.  Of equal importance is the fact that, to be successful, a poor people's movement needs to shake up every level of  society. In a nutshell, the Poor People's Summit is for EVERYONE who needs or wants to end poverty in America. 

Finally, history has repeatedly shown that the struggles of poor people provoke an intense reaction from writers, artists, and musicians.  If we can tap into that reaction in an organized way, everything is possible. 

For instance, at the Summit a proposal will be presented to approve a March of the Americas, in which large contingents from Canada, Latin America, and the U.S. would converge on Washington, D.C. in October 1999 for a march on the UN in New York to continue to press the need of poor people the world over for economic human rights.  With broad involvement from the cultural communities of this hemisphere, the March of the Americas can make history and unleash a multitude of possibilities for all of us to make a difference in this world. 

I hope to hear from you soon.  I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia and, in the meantime, please disseminate this message as widely as possible.  Thank you very much. 


Lee Ballinger 
P.O. Box 341305 
Los Angeles, CA 90034 

Box 50678 
Philadelphia,  PA 19132 
(215) 203-1945 

Website: http://www.libertynet.org/kwru 

"While the rich and powerful of the world strategize daily to maintain their power, working to keep the rest of us poor and powerless, we should do nothing less in our own interests. The Poor People's Summit is a clarion call for the New American Revolution--beyond race, nationality, and gender politics, as we unite around our common aims to provide a decent lives for ourselves and our children. Shouldn't you be there?" 

— Luis Rodriguez, author of Always Running: Mi Vida Loca--Gang Days in L.A. and founding member of Youth Struggling for Survival in Chicago and Rock A Mole Productions in Los Angeles.



© 2003-2007 Clint Harris  (clint@steveearle.net) – All Rights Reserved
© 1995-2003 Lisa Kemper  – All Rights Reserved

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