“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.” – Martin Luther King Jr., from “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” (1967)
While many remember King for his “I have a dream” speech, and others idolize him as a symbol for racial equality, one of the less canonized memories of this man was his commitment to ending poverty. At the time of his death, King was in the middle of sending black leaders into the communities hit hardest by economic misfortune in order to start programs that would lift people up.
King understood that the problems inherent in racism were also central to poverty; that race and class were fundamentally intertwined. He knew that he could not make progress on one front without trying to make progress on the other. Yet, while there has been marked progress in both areas, things are nowhere near where they could be.
In our upcoming book, we write about both these issues. We talk a lot about the level of privilege that has been afforded to us on the basis of our skin color, and because of our economic upbringing. We recognize that these factors play a crucial role in our own self-actualization, and that in all likelihood we would not be as successful as we are if we had been born poor, or black, or latino, etc. We write about the access to food in more diverse communities, and the struggles that people face when looking to work their way out of poverty.
We have written about these issues because we have a responsibility to raise our voices for those who cannot. As people with privilege, we have the means and therefore the responsibility to advocate for others, which is why we often call upon our readers to do whatever they can to help those without. And we will do so again, and again, and again.
This past week the horrors unfolding in Haiti have brought us yet another opportunity to stand up and lend a hand. In addition to worrying about which football team is or isn’t heading to the playoffs, please, spend some time (and money) worrying about the people who have the least, and who have been hit the hardest. The differences between football and disaster are many, but with Haiti, you can actually do something about it. I can think of no better way for all of us to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.