Echoing Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, a visionary pastor from Goldsboro, North Carolina sets out across the United States to revive the audacious movement to end poverty. Inspiring a nation to join him in voicing the everyday brutality they face, together they risk arrest, put their bodies on the line and embark on the most extensive campaign of civil disobedience in US history.
140 million people in the United States are poor or low-wealth. In the wealthiest society in human history, nearly half of the population lives in poverty or is struggling to make ends meet and cannot afford a $400 emergency. “40 Days and 40 Nights,” tells the story of a bold new social movement to end poverty in the United States, led by Reverend William J. Barber. A pastor from a small town in North Carolina, Reverend Barber, has been praised as “the most important progressive political leader in generations.” After the success of the Moral Monday protests, Reverend Barber - inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign - joined other clergies to launch a national movement led by poor and working people. 40 Days and 40 Nights is an intimate account of a "season of resistance," told through the eyes of Reverend Barber as well as the mothers, veterans, preachers, and students who are the voices and founding members of this new “fusion” movement. For 40 days and 40 nights during the Summer of 2018, thousands of people - Black, white, Latino, First Nation, Asian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian, people not of faith, gay, straight, young and old - work together, picking up the baton from the freedom fighters of the Civil Rights Movement. The film follows Reverend Barber as he travels across the country to recruit participants, encountering everyday citizens who show promise as inspiring, if unlikely leaders. He meets US army veterans who have suffered detrimental hardships - surviving in places like Aberdeen, WA that hold little promise but plenty of cheap heroin. He meets a mother in Selma, AL who lost her daughter to cancer because Alabama refused to expand Medicare, denying her daughter life-saving treatment. And he meets people who worked with Dr. King during the 1968 Poor People's Campaign, and who illuminate a forgotten history. The film bears witness to the profound process by which those without power decide not to accept their powerlessness. Instead, they claim - through protest, dance, song, and poems, through testimony and tears - their birthright: to live decent lives in the United States of America. Our characters offer an intimate face-to-face with people creating a new world for all living on the frontlines of poverty to show how their fate intertwines with the future of all humanity.