The Oregon League of Minority Voters is launching a campaign to combat some of the root causes of poverty. Undertaking a task that took the full weight and power of the federal government in 1964, Promise King, executive director of the OLMV, said he's going to take the fight to all the "corridors of power."
The basic tenets of the program plan to attack the root forces of poverty from two areas – provide workforce training and addressing disparities in health care.
"The systems today are not inherently strong enough to solve the poverty issues we have today," King told The Skanner. "It's diminishing people's hope to rise above their conditions."
From the possibility of a looming food crisis to the increasingly high cost of living, King and his group plan to "knock on the doors of those who can change the narration" in this country. A big part of the solution, says King, comes from the private sector.
"One agency alone cannot resolve poverty, no matter what," he said.
The OLMV will be holding a Poverty Summit Oct. 2 to draw out a formal plan for action regarding its war on poverty. While the location and exact times of the summit are not yet final, King hopes to bring together a wide variety of private, public and nonprofit agencies to formulate possible solutions.
The OLMV will try to engage health care providers, trade unions and others as a way to look for possible solutions to the reasons people are kept in a cycle of poverty.
"The summit brings everyone together to talk about a solution," he said. "Out of collaboration you get consensus about how to resolve the issues of poverty."
Bringing together everyone means everyone – even those private, or public, sector leaders who make their money off the backs of Oregon's poor.
Part of what makes the OLMV's proposal different, said King, is the White people who are lending their support to the campaign. Many people on the board of the OLMV are Caucasians. King, an immigrant from Nigeria, said some of the best advocates for minorities are from the majority – who are also more likely to have access to the people in power.
The poverty campaign is still in the planning stages, and King says board members – including State Treasurer Randall Edwards and Azumano Travel Owner Sho Dozono – are working to refine the points of the plan before the October summit.
"We need to revisit training programs and other structures that helped push people into the middle class," King said.
For more information or to volunteer for the OLMV, contact them at 503-289-1405 or email [email protected].