Students ‘mobilize’ to D.C. to fight poverty

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

Taking a trip the week before finals may sound like a crazy idea to some; however, three SDSU students are headed to Washington, D.C., on April 24.

These students are attending the Mobilization to End Poverty, an event to raise awareness about poverty and to promote its end.

“It’s going to be 5,000 to 10,000 people coming together,” said Ben Johnson, a sophomore broadcast journalism major. “There will be keynote speakers, and it will be a way to get tools to help our communities and raise awareness on a national level.”

The mobilization is being put on by Sojourners, a Christian group whose mission is to “articulate the biblical call to social justice,” according to their Web site,

Their goals, as listed on their Web site, include reducing the number of Americans living in poverty by half in the next 10 years and to provide leadership to help achieve international goals for reducing extreme global poverty.

The event begins on April 26 and lasts until April 29 and will include keynote addresses, workshops, training, networking, worship and Capitol Hill day, a time for participants to meet with their elected officials.

Some topics for the workshops in relation to poverty include the economy, women, health care, the environment, peace and immigration.

President Barack Obama has been invited to give a major address on poverty during this gathering.

Sarah Johnson, a freshman studying sociology, is excited to go on the trip.

“I think it will be really interesting to see so many people bring attention to poverty ? and to maybe see Barack Obama speak,” she said.

It is unknown whether or not the president will speak at the gathering.

“I guess it will be a surprise when we get there,” said Ben Johnson.

Some of the scheduled speakers include Rep. Rosa DeLauro; Rep. John Lewis; Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; David Lane, CEO and president of ONE; Elen Nissenbaum from the center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Rev. Sharon Watkins, the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and Travis Smiley of The Travis Smiley Show.

The students are missing most of the week before finals, said Sarah Johnson, but they have university-excused absences.

“I’m missing a test, so it is nice to be able to make it up,” she said.

“I am looking forward to seeing something outside the Midwest,” said Ben Johnson, “and to kind of get a new look at a new way of life.

“To sort of see that many people come together gives you a little more faith in humanity,” he said.

The group is part of the United Faith Campus Ministry and has been fundraising for two months to help pay for their expenses.

According to Ben Johnson, they sold coffee and butter braids, had a pancake feed and did a Pizza Ranch fundraiser.

The students only have to pay $140 out of pocket for their registration plus two meals a day.

The students will also have some opportunities to go sightseeing while in Washington, D.C.

“We are going to the Holocaust Museum the first day and kind of doing the touristy things in the beginning,” said Sarah Johnson.

They will also be heading to the Washington Monument and a few other places.

Attending the Mobilization is something to look forward to, said Ben Johnson.

“I am just excited.”

United Faith Campus Ministries is planning more trips in the future, including one to Peru in 2010.