Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 13, 2012

This weekend, as we consider the life and legacy of one of America’s greatest citizens, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we should remember that the dream he articulated has still not been fully realized. Before he was tragically murdered in Memphis, Dr. King was working toward the pursuit of economic and social justice for all Americans. Nearly fifty years later, millions of Americans today are still living through "a long night of injustice" in the form of economic hardship, diminished opportunity, and a lack of social mobility.

In the spring of 1968, Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing to launch the Poor People’s Campaign, a second march on Washington to confront, in his words, a Congress that "appropriates military funds with alacrity and generosity," but that also "appropriates poverty funds with miserliness and grudging reluctance." He could have spoken those same words today.

We have come a long way as a nation towards racial equality, even though there is still much work left to be done. But in terms of economic justice, America has moved backwards. Today, workers earning the federal minimum wage have less purchasing power than minimum wage earners in 1968. Millions of families are facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, and Memphis is one of the cities hardest-hit by the recession. If we truly want to honor the legacy of Dr. King, we must continue his unfinished work and ensure that every American has access to honest work, fair wages, affordable housing, and the ability to earn and enjoy a decent life.

Click the video below to take a virtual tour of the MLK Memorial, or visit the MLK Memorial Foundation's website here.