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Rev. Dr. William Barber II outside the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Rev. William Barber, of the Poor People's Campaign, is traveling to the Vatican to address anti-poverty advocates from around the world about the struggles of low-income people in the U.S.

Driving the news: Barber, a leading figure on the Christian left in the U.S., told Axios that political leaders continue to brush off incoming inequality despite the systemic disparities COVID-19 exposed.

Details: Barber is scheduled to speak at a conference Monday hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on "coalition-building and bridging religious communities."

  • "The world is richer than ever, yet poverty persists in the midst of plenty," the Vatican says in its conference booklet that also asks attendees to come up with solutions.
  • Barber was invited by the Vatican through economist Jeffrey Sachs, who is co-hosting the conference.

What they're saying: "The poverty [in the U.S.] is more egregious because we are the so-called wealthiest nation in the world," Barber said. "And in the wealthiest nation in the world, 700 people are dying every day from poverty."

Of note: Barber pointed to how the pandemic disproportionately affected low-income Black Americans, Latinos and Native Americans and the inequality in health care and structural racism that persists in the U.S.

Flashback: Barber and the Rev. Jesse Jackson were among a group of civil rights leaders arrested outside the Senate during a protest calling for the filibuster's abolition in June.

  • The demonstration also called on senators to pass a sweeping voting rights bill that was blocked in the Senate on Tuesday, which was co-sponsored by every Democratic senator except for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Don't forget: The Poor People's Campaign, co-chaired by Barber, is modeled after Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1968 Poor People's March and seeks to organize low-income Black, white, Asian American, Latino and Native American residents.

  • Instead of assembling in camps near the National Mall — as protesters did in the wake of King's death in 1968, as part of the Poor People's Campaign — this drive has been organizing low-income people from El Paso to Kentucky via virtual events.

Go deeper

Council member Robert White runs for D.C. mayor

Photo: Cuneyt Dil/Axios

At-large Council member Robert White joined the D.C. mayor's race Wednesday, emphasizing the need to stem violent crime and fight poverty.

Why it matters: White's entry sets up a likely contest against Mayor Muriel Bowser to lead the nation's capital amid a spike in homicides and the pandemic's continued disruption to health and the economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

Unvaccinated athletes face 21-day quarantine at Beijing Olympics

Logos for the 2022 Winter Olympics at Yanqing Ice Festival in February 2021 in Beijing. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Athletes, staff members and journalists at the 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games who have not been vaccinated against the coronavirus will be required to quarantine for three weeks, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) outlined in its newly-published "playbooks."

Why it matters: The quarantine period is longer than the Games themselves, meaning vaccinations or an earlier arrival date will be required to participate in or cover the Games.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Economy & Business

FTX CEO predicts more U.S. crypto flight

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

FTX doesn't look much like a company valued at $25 billion. Its new headquarters, located in a sleepy part of The Bahamas, is so nondescript as to not even have a sign. But it does expect to soon have neighbors.

Driving the news: Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried tells "Axios on HBO" to expect "more and more crypto flight from the states" if the U.S. doesn't soon create a regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies.