As she reflects on a recent visit to the nation’s capital, Yolanda Adams said she has returned to Kenosha with renewed vigor, optimism and concern.
Adams, who retired as president and CEO of the Urban League of Kenosha and Racine in 2017, has not strayed far from the issues she addressed while at the helm of the organization.
In early 2018, Adams joined the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign, which is a statewide chapter building off the same principles of the national movement of the same name. This past week, Adams served as one of five delegates on the state’s behalf in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve been to Capitol Hill a number of times,” Adams said. “But I was never at a budget hearing before. This was very enlightening.”
Adams sat in on the hearing and witnessed lawmakers take testimony from delegates across the U.S. during a Congressional budget hearing on the issues front and center within the Poor People’s Campaign.
Although Adams was not selected to provide testimony, she was one of 25 delegates invited to sit in and listen. Speakers included the Rev. William Barber II, who Adams described as one of the closest representatives of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in today’s social justice landscape.
Across the nation, campaign organizers are calling on lawmakers to make a number of changes to such issues as voting rights, welfare and work requirements, living wages, health care, access to clean water, housing and ecological devastation.
At its core, Adams said, the Poor People’s Campaign advocates on behalf of the 140 million Americans currently living in poverty.
Adams said she was inspired to join the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign just as the statewide organization was launching early last year as she read further about the national group’s advocacy efforts.
She also said she credits a report, “The Souls of Poor Folk,” as a catalyst for wanting to continue to work toward meaningful progress. The report, published a year ago, was commissioned from several organizations, including the Poor People’s Campaign.
“It really reinforced my desire to want to be a part of this campaign,” Adams said. “I don’t want anybody to be left behind.”
Adams was one of five Wisconsin delegates chosen to go to Capitol Hill. The other representatives advocating on the state’s behalf included Erik Franze, of Madison; Nathan Griswold, of Racine; Aaron Matteson, of Pewaukee; and Frank Parrish, of Milwaukee.
The Congressional budget hearing was one of multiple events organizers participated in during their time in the nation’s capital. Other events included participation in forums and other related events.
“You’re there with thousands of other people,” Adams said as she recapped the experience. “There’s a lot of camaraderie and networking.”
For information on the Poor People’s Campaign, visit www.poorpeoplescampaign.org.