Steven C. Pitts and William E. Spriggs, co-authors of Beyond the Mountaintop: King’s Prescription for Poverty, connect the dots between real compassion and economic policy in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Some might be tempted to reflect on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by focusing on his dream of racial harmony. To appropriately mark this moment is to enter a bigger circle encompassing King’s living legacy of economic justice, a crusade against poverty, that was his final and most enduring campaign.
King saw poverty as the result of economic policy, not social pathology. “True compassion is more than flipping a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring,” he said.
Today, the quest for equality of income and opportunity is more urgent than ever as the nation struggles with a financial crisis and rising job loss. The gap between the poorest and richest in our society has not been this wide since just before the Great Depression.
The burden of racism is matched by the strain of an economy that fails to reward workers regardless of race. Productivity has risen while wages have not kept pace with inflation. Half of the black-white male wage gap is due to market discrimination.
Things can be different.
There’s more, and it’s worth reading.