WASHINGTON -- Civil rights leaders have joined a popular petition on Change.org calling on JP Morgan Chase to save the home of Helen Bailey, a 78-year-old grandmother and former civil rights activist in Nashville, Tennessee. The petition has already been signed by more than 40,000 supporters across the country and continues to grow rapidly.
"I strongly support my dear sister Helen Bailey," said Cornel West. "Her struggle for justice is legendary. I stand with her."
"Banks should not use the power of foreclosure recklessly," said Alex Hurder, who helped Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike. "It is unconscionable to foreclose on a 78-year-old homeowner, who has paid her mortgage for years, simply because she is a few months behind in her payments. Chase Bank needs to negotiate with Ms. Helen Bailey."
The campaign comes as JP Morgan Chase launches a new website aligning itself with the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"The values exhibited by Dr. King and embodied in his lifelong struggle for social change align with those that shape JPMorgan Chase's approach to giving in the communities in which it operates," the site reads.
Ms. Bailey, a former childcare provider for autistic children and community volunteer, faces the loss of her home as soon as Feb. 15, 2012, unless Chase Bank stops the foreclosure.
"JP Morgan Chase must practice what it preaches," said Gary Flowers, Executive Director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc. "On one hand, the bank cannot earnestly invoke the values of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., while devaluing the very principles for which he lived and died. Dr. King reminded us that cowardice asks the question, 'is it safe?'; politics asks, 'is it popular?'; expedience asks, 'will it work?'; but morality asks, 'is it right?' The practices of Chase Bank in Nashville are not right."
"It is outrageous that JP Morgan Chase would claim to be helping to fulfill Dr. King's dream while taking away the home of an elderly woman who marched for civil rights," Bill Fletcher, Jr. of BlackCommentator.com said. "Dr. King stood for racial and economic justice. Chase's actions in the case of Ms. Bailey and so many other homeowners across the country does not reflect the vision for which Dr. King, Ms. Bailey and so many others fight."
Occupy Nashville's Housing Protection committee created the campaign on Change.org when members learned of Chase Bank's plans to foreclose on Ms. Bailey, who has lived in her home for 20 years and consistently made her mortgage payments. Recently, Ms. Bailey fell behind on payments due to increase medical bills.
"Ms. Bailey and her supporters at Occupy Nashville's Housing Protection Campaign are taking on one of the biggest financial institutions in the country," said Change.org Senior Organizer Tim Newman. "And now, prominent civil rights leaders are starting to speak out. This is just one more example of how campaigns on Change.org are helping people save their homes from foreclosure."
Sign the petition to join the campaign to save Helen Bailey's home: