Nearly 52 years after Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis outside the Lorraine Motel room where he was organizing a crusade against poverty, the scourge is receiving new attention.
Today, on the federal holiday recognizing King, the public and media tend to focus largely on King’s efforts in the early days of the civil rights struggle, memorialized in Selma, which you can rent on Redbox or stream on Amazon.
In recent years, national efforts honoring King’s legacy have focused on a day of service for millions of Americans. But by his reckoning, the evils of racism, poverty and war were intertwined, and King was determined to oppose them all.
Now, there’s The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, working to unite people across the U.S. and in Rhode Island to “challenge systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality of religious nationalism.”
The movement is a modern effort based on King’s Poor People’s Campaign, envisioned as a march on Washington of around 2,000 people, speaking out against income inequity, lack of opportunity, and insufficient wages, according to MLK50. The website quotes King:
We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on. People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way … and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it.’
The Poor People’s Campaign’s agenda calls on federal and state governments to:
- Ensure the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of urgent social needs, including decent and affordable housing, quality education and health care, safe and affordable water, and job creation.
- Protect voting rights and prohibit racist gerrymandering, hiring, policing, and sentencing policies that exacerbate inequalities for black and brown people.
- End military aggression, ban the proliferation of guns, and demilitarize our communities on the border and the interior.
- Ensure the right to clean water, air, and a healthy environment and increased public investment in jobs programs to transition to a green economy.
According to RI’s page on The Poor People’s Campaign website, Rhode Island’s contribution to the country’s continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan totals $17 billion since 2001, and could instead have created 14,000 new jobs in clean energy, or placed every Rhode Island child in Head Start early childhood education programs, or covered the cost of Medicaid for 190,000 adults for the past 17 years.
MLK Day: What’s Open?
While you’re thinking about all of that and how you might help change it with your current representatives or in the voting booth, remember the usual answers to common holiday questions:
Non-essential Government departments are closed, as are many corporations.
TF Green State Airport is operating, with arrival and departure schedules online.
Banks are also closed.
Ministers Alliance of RI Celebrate King legacy at Scholarship Breakfast
The Ministers Alliance of Rhode Island will commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at their 35th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at Rhodes on The Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston.
Each year at the breakfast, students are awarded scholarships to help continue their education and pursue their dreams.
You may still buy tickets at the door, first come first served. Tickets are $35. Doors open at 7 a.m.
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