The mission, which is being called "Occupy the Dream," will start on Monday, January 16, 2012, in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday holiday. On that day, Dr. Ben Chavis announced recently during a press conference at the National Press Club, pastors who are part of the Occupy the Dream movement will connect with the well-known Occupy Wall Street group to hold protests at Federal Reserve banks in 10 cities around the nation.
The strategy will be to raise the consciousness level of African-Americans, starting in church pulpits, by spreading the message of income equality, economic justice and empowerment, leading up to the January 16 events. "It starts in the pulpit and then we're going to go to the community at large," he said.
Led by Dr. Ben Chavis, civil rights leaders announced the formation of Occupy the Dream, an organization to mobilize Americans around the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who sought to wage war on poverty, unemployment and economic injustice. Dr. Chavis announced that the first major march of Occupy the Dream would also take place on Martin Luther King Day, January 16, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore – which has 10,000 members, joined Dr. Chavis and leading advocates of Occupy Wall Street at the National Press Club, where they rallied their followers.
Launching the movement, Dr. Bryant explained the crisis now facing many Americans in stark, but eloquent, terms:
Ladies and Gentlemen, in just a few days, about 200,000 of our sons and daughters will be returning back to the United States in a large way indicating the end of the war in the Middle East. Regrettably they are going to be coming to another war. It's not going to be a War on Terror as indicated by then-President Bush. It's not even going to be a War on Drugs implemented by Nancy Reagan or a War on Obesity by Michelle Obama – but they're going to be coming into a war on poverty – a war on poverty, unemployment and economic inequality and greed has in fact ravaged our nation down to its core.
Sgt. Shamar Thomas and David DeGraw of Occupy Wall Street also read a statement welcoming the civil rights and religious leaders to the movement. It included the following:
The Occupy Wall Street movement is about people coming together to say "enough is enough." Our families have endured economic oppression for too long. The Occupy Wall Street movement draws its strength from people of all different walks of life, with opinions across the political spectrum, coming together to find common ground and unite against the global financial interests that have bought control of our government.
Dr. King's vision of economic justice is an edifying example of what we intend to achieve. The Occupy movement has become a powerful force by occupying communities throughout the country. The time has now come for us to embody the spirit of Dr. King and for us to "Occupy the Dream."
Occupy the Dream will not end on January 16th. This will be the first of many actions leading up to a mass gathering in Washington, DC, to be held April 4 – 7.