From Shakti Butler, Founder of World Trust:
We at World Trust join you in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man and his legacy. In 1967, Dr. King gave a speech in which he asked, "Why are there forty million poor people in America?"
We Must Address Systemic Racial Inequity
When you begin to ask that question, you're raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. "We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace, but one day, we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars, needs restructuring." We've got to begin to ask the questions about the whole society. The problem of racism, the problem of exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together.
People Build Movements to Address Inequity
It's clear that Dr. King inspired people. People create movements when they're dissatisfied. Here is Ericka Huggins' story, which is one of many:
"When I saw that there movements all over the country other than the NAACP, and Kennedy and others were telling Martin Luther King and all of his wonderful supporters, "Just wait; now is not the time." As a young person, I read about the Black Panther Party, I was 17 years old, maybe 18, and I thought 'Oh no, we can't wait. People are dying right now and there are children down the road that I tutor who cannot read right now. There are children starving right now. There are police brutalizing people right now.'
Build Community: Systemic Inequity impacts All People
Ericka Huggins continues, "My understanding shifted about poverty, racism and structural inequalities after I joined the Black Panther Party and began working in communities of color. Not just the African-American community; that I understood, but when I started working with the Brown Berets and when the Black Panther Party started working with the Young Lords. (For people who might not know, The Young Lords were a Puerto Rican movement, mostly on the East Coast and the Brown Berets were mostly Mexican-American movement started in California.) We also worked with Asian-American movements and Native American movements.
"I got to see that this isn't just about black people. That it was the leverage for putting it [slavery] in place, but this is about controlling and manipulating the wealth that people of color can produce."
Grounded in Love
We know that Dr. King's message and questions are still relevant. We deal with inequities every single day, but Dr. King tells us how we must build our movements. He said it like this: "I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. I'm talking about a strong, demanding love."
The beautiful thing is that we're moving against wrong when we do it. We must infuse our movements with love. This is the only way that we can build societies in which everyone can thrive.
This World Trust tribute to Dr. King was recorded in 2012, and remains relevant today.
How is your community responding to #BlackLivesMatter? World Trust's diversity videos and workshops are rooted in love and justice. Our diversity activities engage a broad audience by building community and using a simple frame that explains the system of inequity.