Monday, January 17, 2011

Realizing King's Dream

By: Ellen Snook, Director of Marketing & Communication

Today, as we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, I am reminded that his fight was not just for racial equality, but also for economic equality. In April 1967, he addressed this issue in a speech at Stanford Univeristy:

There are literally two Americas . One America is beautiful for situation. And, in a sense, this America is overflowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of opportunity. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies; and culture and education for their minds; and freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America , millions of people experience every day the opportunity of having life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in all of their dimensions. And in this America millions of young people grow up in the sunlight of opportunity

But tragically and unfortunately, there is another America . This other America has a daily ugliness about it that constantly transforms the ebulliency of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this America millions of work-starved men walk the streets daily in search for jobs that do not exist. In this America millions of people find themselves living in rat-infested, vermin-filled slums. In this America people are poor by the millions. They find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

But we must see that the struggle today is much more difficult. It’s more difficult today because we are struggling now for genuine equality. And it’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. And so today we are struggling for something which says we demand genuine equality.

With poverty at an all-time high and the wealth gap at record highs as well, King’s “Other America” continues to be all too real. It continues to be true that women, women of color and single mothers run the greatest risk of living in poverty. 

Every day at Women’s Initiative, we see the power of economic equality. Women who have become successful business women and increased their income and assets improve the lives of themselves, their families, and their communities. They're pulling themselves up, regaining dignity and feeling safe and secure. By achieving economic self sufficiency and becoming community leaders, these women not only are living their own dream, but Dr. King's as well.

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