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Helpers Among Us: Poor People’s Campaign

Outside Rep. Seth Moulton’s office, left to right Connie McGrane, Gwendolyn Brown, Moulton aide Brenna Goss and Chantal Sanchez COURTESTY PHOTO/CONNIE MCGRANE

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After retiring as a civil rights lawyer for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Grove Street resident Connie McGrane wanted to “do something larger in the justice world.” 

McGrane’s career included submitting a legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court and working for the state’s Commission against Discrimination, and she was looking for a way to be more effective in social change.

What she found was a faith-based movement, the Poor People’s Campaign, a national organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shortly before he was assassinated. 

“Martin Luther King’s faith propelled him — he was a liberation theologian,” says McGrane, adding that the theology questions the values of institutions. 

“We don’t support candidates, we support democracy,” McGrane explains, saying, “We’re great policy wonks.

“This year our goal is to mobilize poor and low-income workers to register to vote,” she continues. “If more people voted, they could influence elections. And we publicize the fact that poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in this country. In the richest country in the world, this shouldn’t be happening.”

The Massachusetts delegation of the Poor People's Campaign attend a rally in Washington, D.C. COURTESY PHOTO/CONNIE MCGRANE

McGrane is working on the Massachusetts Episcopal Diocese and Winchester’s Church of the Epiphany to join the PPC and mobilize their congregations. Already, some Epiphany members will be marching with McGrane on March 2 at the State House, which will coincide with marches at 31 state capitals. 

One of the marchers will be Margaret Young, who says she’s “deeply troubled about the economic inequalities in our world.”

“I spoke with Connie at Parish of the Epiphany where we both worship,” Young says. “At her suggestion, I’m planning to attend the Poor People’s Campaign rally at the Massachusetts State House.” 

Despite the connection with her church, McGrane emphasizes that all are welcome and she hopes other Winchester residents will consider joining the group. 

“It’s a joyful movement,” she says. “There’s a component to moving together that’s very different from any secular movement I’ve been involved with. This is all about love.”

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