Survival Week Protests Budget Cuts
By anis Sharp Powell
Vol. 2, No. 7, 1980, p. 4
“No cuts in poor people’s programs” was the message being sent to Congress and the nation by the poor people and labor, civil rights, tenants and religious organizations involved in planning Survival Week.
Over 150 organizations in nine Southern states organized and endorsed Survival Week, a series of activities that took place May 1-11 to protest Carter’s efforts to “balance the budget” and “fight inflation” at the expense of poor people’s needs for jobs, housing, medical care, food and education.
The cuts threaten to close Black colleges, cripple health care for the young and elderly, and hundreds of thousands of families will face hunger, malnutrition, and starvation when the cuts eliminate the food stamp program. Organizers of Survival Week state that “Carter wants to spend $4 billion less on poor people so he can spend $4 billion more on guns and bullets.” They feel that the federal government is trying to trade the need for medical care and a decent income for two submarines and a bomber.
A spirited rally by the Atlanta Welfare Rights Organization on May 9 set the stage for a series of weekend demonstrations centered in Georgia. As a crowd of 300 rallied at the Richard B. Russell federal building to chants that “hungry people will steal, hungry people will kill” plans were being made for people all over to go to a rally in Americus, Georgia and march to Plains— Jimmy Carter’s home town. Two hundred marchers carried “Say No to Carter’s Budget Cuts” banners and other placards while chanting “Don’t want no Carter, no Carter; don’t want no Klan, no Klan; just want some justice, jobs and land” through the south Georgia countryside.
Mother’s Day marked the final demonstration for Survival Week. One thousand protestors, representing the South’s poor and hungry, marched in Atlanta on Sunday, in what the Committee for Survival called a “March for Bread and Justice.” The march followed the route of Martin Luther King’s funeral procession by Morehouse College where Rosalyn Carter was giving a commencement address to a freedom rally in University Park at the Atlanta University Center. The loudest chant of “Jimmy Carter has got to go” was heard as demonstrators passed by Morehouse.
Students staged a separate demonstration to protest the First Lady’s presence at the Black men’s college. They claimed her presence was a ploy to obtain the votes of Black and poor people by displaying her “concern for their welfare and respect for their educational institutions.” Four persons were arrested for criminal trespass and failure to disperse as they protested in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapel on the campus.
Congress meanwhile was moving toward averting the cutoff but many fear it will not move fast enough. Protestors also stress that simply reinstating the current allotment will not be sufficient. With the current rate of inflation, without an increase, the poor will have a 25 percent “budget cut” based on what they are receiving now.