Monday, January 20, 2014

The Radical King

"The curse of poverty has no justification in our age …. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

By the standards of the time, Martin Luther King was a radical, not only on civil rights but on the war in Vietnam.  Now that aspects of his agenda have been enshrined in law, and he has been enshrined in a holiday, it is well to note that in some other areas he would be considered radical today, especially on the issue of poverty and what today is somewhat confusingly called income inequality.

He was scheduled to march on Washington again in 1968, on the issue of poverty.  He was assassinated before he could.

His passion on the issues of alleviating poverty came from the same source as his passion for ending racial injustice: real human suffering.  An example he noted:

"And I was in Newark and Harlem just this week. And I walked into the homes of welfare mothers. I saw them in conditions-no, not with wall-to-wall carpet, but wall-to-wall rats and roaches. I stood in an apartment and this welfare mother said to me, “The landlord will not repair this place. I’ve been here two years and he hasn’t made a single repair.” She pointed out the walls with all the ceiling falling through. She showed me the holes where the rats came in. She said night after night we have to stay awake to keep the rats and roaches from getting to the children."

Does anyone believe this doesn't go on right now in America, almost a half century later?

More to come here on the topic of poverty and the income divide.