Showing posts with label equity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label equity. Show all posts


January 18th is a National Holiday: Martin Luther King, Jr. On Poverty

In this post, I talk about how Martin Luther King, Jr. is known as a civil rights activist. Still, his legacy is more about human rights -- especially the state of poverty that he believed could be eradicated if humans only have the will to do so.
Martin Luther King, Jr. at a press conference
 "Martin Luther King press conference / [MST]." Original black and white negative by Marion S. Trikosko. Taken August 26th, 1964, Washington, D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

King was the president of the Southern 
Christian Leadership Conference and advocated
for the eradication of poverty in society.
image courtesy NYPL on Unsplash

Today I listened to a brief speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s son, Martin Luther King, III. In the video, he talks about his father's legacy but points out that one message King repeatedly gave was often not emphasized in the praise we often give the slain civil rights leader. It's about poverty. When King was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968, he protested against the poverty wages sanitation workers were given who worked in the city. Workers worked long hours and subsisted on low wages, and many were also on welfare. King espouses the merits of having a stable job and receiving an equitable income as something elusive for Americans. Whenever I talk about living wages today or about the need to reduce poverty, I often run up against tin ears. It's easy to shush away poverty as one of those problems Miss America pageant contestants say they want to defeat (along with world peace). But King was right when he said the problem won't go away unless we have the will to fight it. When I look at the problems beset by the Covid-19 virus, I see a public health crisis, but I also see a crisis that has torn open the inequalities caused by poverty. In the United States, forty-five million (maybe more) live in poverty, which by some estimates is more than were poor during Martin Luther King's time.

So, if you are celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday today in the United States, it is appropriate to sing praise for what he did to secure civil rights, but the road to equitable human rights is still not won.

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