The Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas was the site of a massive gathering on Wednesday, January 11, starting at 10:15am. Several hundred Kansans flowed into the Statehouse, registered, and moved up to the second floor Rotunda to hear presentations by faith leaders, Black Lives Matter representatives, community members, poets, performance artists, peace activists, environmentalists, American Indians and others talking about what Kansans need now. The aim of the event was to galvanize enthusiasm for issues, and then move to communicate with legislators, to let them know the concerns.
“We the People of Kansas, the supreme governing body, do so demand. . .”
–economic justice, equitable public education, healthcare access, racial and Indigenous justice, environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture, voting rights, gender equity, religious freedom, LGBTQ rights, responsible gun policy, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform, anti-corruption reform, disability rights, infrastructure investment and child protections.
The statewide Kansas People’s Agenda is based on the Moral Mondays movement, led by North Carolina minister, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. It reclaims “morality” from politicians enacting legislation that is anything but moral. Rev. Barber describes this era as a Third Reconstruction, which is the name of a book he has written–“how a moral movement is overcoming the politics of division and fear.”
Echoes of the speakers and response from the crowd were heard throughout the building. The event followed the governor’s State of the State speech, given the day before. Governor Brownback has faced opposition to his tax reduction policies from within the state and from others in the U.S., stating that Kansas has a huge debt, hundreds of millions of dollars–due to the removal of income tax, which has meant cutting services, such as a 4% reduction in “KanCare,” the Medicaid program; borrowing from state transportation funds; and a new plan to borrow from the tobacco revenue which has been used for children’s services. Attendees at the rally hope that several newly-elected moderate legislators will be able to partner with others to restore the income tax, to help balance the budget, and pull Kansas out of a dreadful debt burden. The rally was a positive step in that direction.
Attendees included the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, the American Federation of Teachers/Kansas, the Council on American Islamic Relations of Kansas, Kansas Interfaith Alliance, Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice, NAACP, Lawrence Chapter, and many more organizations.
Find more about the agenda at http://www.kansaspeoplesagenda.org/legislature-priorities or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Kansas-Peoples-Agenda-1070440313066759/?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite¬if_id=1484249130744974.