Gotham Gazette

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On August 30, I will be marching with thousands of other New Yorkers in the Poor Peoples’ March and Rally for Justice. We plan to march from Union Square to Times Square in one of a half a dozen different protests and rallies This will take place while the Republican National Convention is in New York City.

But what makes the Poor People’s March different is that we are not just ideologues who have an issue with George W. Bush. We are people who are trying to survive day to day. We face real issues like high unemployment, a lack of affordable housing, and a lack of a health care.

The march is being organized by a coalition of non-profit groups called Still We Rise. We work on issues like poverty, housing, homelessness and AIDS/HIV. We come from neighborhoods like the South Bronx, Harlem and Bed-Stuy. Our faces will reflect the issues facing the city.

We are marching during the Republican National Convention to let all public officials -- Republicans and Democrats -- know that they must have a platform that addresses basic human rights in this country. We are marching for the rights of every New Yorker.

One of the main issues that we are rallying around is HIV and AIDS. I have been living with HIV since 1986. I am blessed to be able to march and be vocal and visible. People think that the epidemic is over because we have pills and some people are living longer. But people are still dying. And in New York City we have an increase in rates of infection in %0}{½?munities of color because of the policies of national and local administrations.

The Still We Rise platform focuses on five main issues.

  1. Immigration: supporting legislation and policy that extends basic human rights to all people.
  2. Jobs: creating opportunity while ensuring that safety net and social services are still in place.
  3. Housing and Homelessness: affirming the idea that safe, affordable housing is a right.
  4. Health: providing health care services and increasing funding for HIV/AIDS.
  5. Criminal justice issues: ending unfair policies, such as the Rockefeller Drug Laws.


The Poor People’s March will be peaceful, and we are seeking a permit from the city. We do not want to risk arrest at this demonstration, and so we will not be doing civil disobedience.

And we hope that this is more than just a one-day event. We are not just exercising our right to protest, but are forming a coalition of people who will register people to vote, especially individuals who have been ignored by politicians. We are also meeting with local officials to remind that that we vote.

If there was ever a time to be speaking out and voting, it is now. We are not the policy wonks or talking heads. We are people live with the day-to-day results of this administration’s policies. This is our chance to come out and make our voices heard.

Louie Jones an organizer for the New York City Aids Housing Network and Still We Rise.