10 Members Of The California State Assembly Break 50-Hour Fast, Recognizing 50th Anniversary Of The Poor People’s Campaign And Raising Awareness Of Poverty In California

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and Assemblymembers Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), David Chiu (D-San Francisco), Kansen Chu (D-Milpitas), Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego), Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles), and Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) broke their 50-hour fast in honor and recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign this morning.

The 50-hour fast was a modest yet thoughtful commitment to the important legacy of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign March on Washington, D.C. In solidarity with the campaign and its lasting legacy and importance in today’s times, the fast paid homage to the continuing efforts to raise awareness that the struggle for the poor endures. The poor know all too well the challenges they face; struggling daily to provide for their families, making sacrificial decisions on whether to pay for medication or put food on the table, and worrying on a month-to-month basis whether their housing will remain accessible to them. The fast was also an acknowledgment of the need to continue to fight for economic justice for all Americans during this time of extreme income inequality and rapidly growing rates of poverty.

At a time when our economy is thriving and the attainment of wealth is at its highest in recent history, one out of five children in California live in poverty and the state faces the largest wealth gap between the rich and the poor in over 50 years. The nation’s recent economic growth over the past ten years means little when one percent of the nation’s population holds 40 percent of the country’s wealth.[1] Even more alarming is the fact that the wealth gap continues to grow. 

“As we break our 50-hour fast today, my colleagues and I are reminded of the plight of California’s poor and remain staunch in our commitment to raising awareness of the continuing economic injustice that exists in our society,” said Assemblymember Kalra. “We stand firm in solidarity with the Poor People’s Campaign and recognize the responsibility that we all share to address extreme income inequality and rapidly growing rates of poverty across our country.”

What participating Assemblymembers are saying:

Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno)
“The fast gave me the opportunity to reflect on all of the work that has been done to address poverty over the past 50 years while also allowing me time to contemplate what still needs to be accomplished. As I break my fast, I am re-energized and will continue working to reduce poverty and improve health care, education, housing and the economy for all Californians.”

Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco)
“This fast highlighted for us the reality that many Californians struggle every day to afford basic necessities like food and shelter. I am committed to working with my colleagues to implement policies that make our economy more just and equitable for all.”

Assemblymember Kansen Chu (D-Milpitas)
“Fasting 50 hours was not an easy feat but it is nothing compared to the struggles and injustice that are still prevalent for many across the country. I thank my colleague, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, for spearheading this fast to raise awareness for the Poor People’s Campaign. There is more work to be done in California and I look forward to working with my fellow legislators to ensure equal opportunities and justice for all.”

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego)
“I’m proud to fast alongside with my compassionate colleagues as we try to bring attention to the 50th Anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign. Going to bed hungry was a choice we are privileged enough to make, but the truth is too many people—and far too many children—are forced to go to bed hungry because they live in poverty. As lawmakers, we have created and sustained numerous programs to attempt to ensure basic needs of all our American families are met. Yet, 42 million Americans are still food insecure. In a country this wealthy, no one should have to go to bed hungry or malnourished.”

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[1] The richest 1 percent now owns more of the country’s wealth than at any time in the past 50 years. Washington Post. December 6, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/06/the-richest-1-percent-now-owns-more-of-the-countrys-wealth-than-at-any-time-in-the-past-50-years/?utm_term=.d82cef0b0601