As Americans reflect today on the impact and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s important we remember one often understated piece of that historic legacy: the reverend’s resolute advocacy for economic justice.
Dr. King professed that economic opportunity is the foundation on which disenfranchised groups may achieve social and political empowerment. He understood that without a job or an income, a worker “has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness.”
King’s message transcends the issue of race and suggests that any American who suffers under economic inequality is without the promises guaranteed to them by the American Dream. Understanding this, Dr. King campaigned for political changes that would not only benefit the black civil rights movement but also ensure a decent quality of life for all working class Americans. In sum, the issues Dr. King fought for weren’t black or minority issues alone, they were and are AMERICAN issues.
Dr. King’s message of economic justice still resonates today, as working men and women from all walks of life in Ohio struggle to make ends meet and put food on the table for their families.
So, in celebrating Dr. King’s legacy it is important that we not simply reflect on his lessons as if they apply only to the past. Instead, we must embrace and utilize the meaning of Dr. King’s work to address the economic challenges that remain, in order to chart a brighter path to the future for all Ohioans.