Sen. John Edwards came to New Orleans’ Ninth Ward to suspend his campaign for the presidency in January, returning to the city where he launched his campaign a year earlier. On the way to the event, Sen. Edwards stopped to talk to a homeless person, who asked him to remember her and her situation. “I say to her and I say to all those who are struggling in this country, we will never forget you,” promised Edwards. “We will fight for you. We will stand up for you.” Ending poverty continues to be the central theme of Edwards’ work, as it was of his campaign. He is currently director of the Center on Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina and chair of the Half in Ten campaign, a movement to cut poverty in half in a decade. Sojourners editor-in-chief Jim Wallis and editor Jim Rice talked with Edwards this summer at a hotel in Washington, D.C.
Jim Wallis: You’ve said in the past that your life vocation is to work to overcome poverty. How would you describe, right now, your vocation and your strategy?
John Edwards: Doing something to end poverty is central to my life. If you look at all the pieces of what I’m working on, they all come back to that place. I’m chair of the new Half in Ten campaign, which aims to cut poverty in half in America in the next 10 years. I have—both on the campaign trail and otherwise—been promoting this issue in every way possible. I’ve been meeting with both thinkers and activists on this issue all over the country. We still have the poverty center at the University of North Carolina, which I’m very proud of. If there is a tool out there available, then I want to take advantage of it.
Wallis: The word “vocation” for a lot of people has to do with a certain sense of “calling.” How has your faith molded or shaped that sense of calling?