Insight News

Feb 05th

Economic equality...Right here, right now

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economic-equality-e1344631155480Over 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. there has been much that has obviously changed about our country. From technology, social attitudes, the growing diversity; our nation has become a multicultural oasis. Sadly, amidst this rapid growth and change, inequalities for communities of color still exist. Dr. King's legacy is often simplified to his focus on racial justice but King was a fighter of economic injustice and wrote that "the inseparable twin of racial injustice is economic injustice."

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a pinnacle event during King's Poor People's Campaign, an organization devoted to economic justice. The modern civil rights movement is still a movement for economic justice. In 1964 the national poverty rate for African American's was about 42%. By 2012, poverty among African-Americans was 27.2% — still more than double the rate among whites, according to the Pew Research Center. Over the last 50 years, progress has been made but progress has been painstakingly slow. In Minneapolis, the lack of progress is noted as one of the most egregious in the country.

In the Minneapolis Foundation's, One Minneapolis report, 54 percentage points separate the share of white (highest) and Black (lowest) children who live in poverty. The report also noted that, poverty disproportionately impacts communities of color in Minneapolis. For example, while African American children account for 30 percent of the population, they account for 53 percent of children in poverty. Minneapolis households that don't have access to adequate careers, safe and stable housing, healthcare, and educational opportunities are at a significant disadvantage for success in school and life. We must stop this cycle now. King's clarion call of the "fierce urgency of now" is still a call for today.

Now is the time that we must make King's Dream a reality. The Minneapolis Urban League and other organizations are pressing forward each day to create 21st Century opportunities for families right here in Minneapolis. We are a people with the spirit of transformation in us and we must think bigger and bolder. We must link today's education to emerging careers. We must continue to build businesses within our community to create jobs in our community. We must continue to rally to get our fair share in each of these public infrastructure projects and we can no longer accept excuses. We must encourage donors and policy makers to provide resources to organizations with missions that support a movement toward economic self-reliance and empowerment.

Jim Crow of the south may no longer be a reality but the new Jim Crow of institutional racism, racially charged economic inequality, and achievement gaps is alive and well right here and right now in Minneapolis.

The times are still dire. The call is still relevant. The time for change is still now.

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