It’s time to finish King’s work on poverty

Written by on January 18, 2016

I have often thought that Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is woefully incomplete. We celebrate him as an almost mythical figure whose sole purpose was to eradicate racial injustice.
King, if he were alive, would beg to differ with that assessment, because he fought for far more than racial equality. He fought to dismantle the very system upon which racial segregation was built and maintained. He fought to eradicate poverty.
Toward the end of his life, King realized that the moral high ground could be a lonely place, if it was built upon a hill of poverty.
So he began to assemble the Poor People’s Campaign.
“The problem of unemployment is not the only problem,” King said in a speech in Grosse Point, Michigan, a month before his death. “There is a problem of underemployment, and there are thousands and thousands, I would say millions of people in the Negro community who are poverty-stricken – not because they are not working, but because they receive wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the main stream of the economic life of our nation.”
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Photo: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at night, by Scott Ableman/ Flickr Creative Commons

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