Inglewood Assemblywoman Autumn Burke got welcome support from Washington on April 9 from civil rights hero John Lewis and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The pair appeared at a rally in South L.A. aimed at drastically reducing child poverty in California and across the nation.
The event was held in support of California Assembly Bill 1520, authored and introduced earlier this year by Burke. The bill calls for the reduction of the percentage of children living below the poverty line in California by half by fiscal year 2039.
It seeks to accomplish this goal through increased funding for childcare, after-school service, job placement programs and other anti-poverty initiatives.
Lewis, whose wife grew up in Los Angeles, said “Here in California, you must get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble, and pass this bill.” Famous for his commitment to civil disobedience and the fight for civil rights in the segregated South, the Georgia Congressman urged the crowd to put pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the legislation.
“This bill is not based on politics. It’s not based on assumptions. It is based on research,” Burke said. Studies by Stanford University were used to author Assembly Bill 1520. One in five children in California lives below the federal poverty line, according to the bill, and 30% include African American and Latino children.
Noting President Trump’s decision to take military action in Syria last week after children were killed in a poison gas attack, Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said she hopes the administration will be as passionate about keeping funding intact for programs that provide necessary services to low-income families in the U.S.
“If you care about the children in Syria, and we all do … let that be a message to care for all of the children in the world,” she said.
Lewis, who grew up “very, very poor” in rural Alabama, said his family survived through the generosity of relatives. He wants California legislators to offer that same kind of safety net to struggling families in the state.
“If it hadn’t been for people helping out, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” he said. “So we must never, ever, give up on any child. Ever.”