Friday, January 20, 2006

MLK, on poverty

Martin Luther King Day remembrances all play the familiar "I have a dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and the images of the nonviolent preacher advocating against desegregation.

Forgotten are the last three years of King's life, noted Todd Huffman recently in The Free Press:

What will be missing is any reference to the final three years of his too short life. After gaining passage of federal civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King spent his last years fighting his most uphill battle, against the nation's indifference to poverty. That today such indifference persists undeterred by decades of soaring affluence is proof, if any were needed, that King went home to God many years too soon. ...

For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were useless.

King decried a society and a government that would allow huge and growing gaps between the income of its richest and its poorest citizens, a majority of whom in America were white, as he was quick to point out. "True compassion," he declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." ...

“There is nothing new about poverty”, King said in his Nobel acceptance speech. “What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”

Huffman included the following recommendations or those who wish to contribute in the effort to end poverty:
*Sign on to the ONE campaign to Make Poverty History, at
*Donate to Care USA, "Where The End Of Poverty Begins", at
*Learn more about poverty in America, at
*Read Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich's hauntingly personal look into the everyday lives of the working poor
*Read The End Of Poverty, by Columbia economist Jeffrey Sachs, with Forward by Bono
*Read I Have A Dream: Writings & Speeches That Changed The World, with Forward by Coretta Scott King


Post a Comment

<< Home