On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and President Obama’s second inauguration, we speak with Cheri Honkala of the Poor Peoples Economic and Human Rights Campaign and Robert Pollin of the Political Economy Research Institute at U Mass-Amherst about Dr. King’s Poor Peoples Campaign, the current state of the economy, the direction the economy is expected to go during Obama’s second term and what people are doing to shift the economy and meet human needs. We listen to excerpts from Dr. King’s speech before the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, GA in August, 1967 called “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.”
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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,” given on August, 1967 to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, GA.
Cheri Honkala was born into poverty in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up watching her mother suffer from domestic violence that she quietly endured for fear of losing her kids. At the age of 17 her 19 year old brother Mark, who suffered from mental health issues committed suicide. He was uninsured and could not afford to get the help he needed. At the time of Mark’s suicide Cheri was a teenage mother living out of her car and going to high school. Despite her difficult upbringing she graduated high school.
Cheri and her son Mark (named after her brother) lived in and out of places eventually becoming homeless after the car they had been living in at the time was demolished by a drunk driver. Mark was 9 years old and Cheri could not find a shelter that would allow them to remain together that winter so in order to keep from freezing Cheri decided to move into an abandoned HUD home. She then began working to help other poor families and became a pioneer in the modern housing takeover movement. For the past 25 years Cheri Honkala has been a leading advocate for poor and homeless in America. She co-founded the Kensington Welfare Rights Union and the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign. She has organized tens of thousands holding marches, demonstrations and setting up tent cities. Read more at Jill Stein.org. And follow her work at EconomicHumanRights.org.
Professor of Economics and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. His books include Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (2003), An Employment-Targeted Economic Program for South Africa (co-authored 2007); A Measure of Fairness: The Economics of Living Wages and Minimum Wages in the United States (co- authored 2008), and Back to Full Employment (2012). He has worked recently as a consultant for the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Labour Organization and numerous non- governmental organizations on various aspects of building high-employment green economies, and is currently directing a project with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization on this topic. Follow Robert’s work on Back to Full Employment and Political Economy Research Institute.
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