April 4, 2018 under Posts

Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy by Continuing his Good Work

By Jennifer Jones Austin

As we reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King’s work and legacy—a full 50 years after his untimely taking—we are both inspired by his bravery and clarity of vision and daunted by the work that remains. Dr. King’s legacy was about ensuring economic opportunity for all Americans, and that our institutions—economic, cultural, and political—embody a foundational ethos based on justice and equality for all citizens of this great nation.

Much progress has been made over the past 50 years, thanks in no small part to King’s pivotal role in what eventually became the War on Poverty. But the fight for economic equity is far from over and there’s renewed urgency given the backsliding we see on commitments that King helped place at the center of our aspirational America: expanded healthcare coverage; access to affordable, dignified housing; investments in child development and education; and the forging of an inclusive economy that provides true economic security and stability for all.

“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

I find it helpful to ask myself what Dr. King might be doing today to alleviate poverty. My work at FPWA keeps me profoundly in touch with Dr. King’s vision, which can be both humbling and motivating. In my mind, it’s the work of anti-poverty organizations like FPWA and our member network of 170 agencies that collectively keep King’s legacy alive—the agencies providing underserved communities with critical services; and the organizations that partner with government representatives to make essential public investments.

Honoring Dr. King’s legacy is, in part, about preserving the public investments that make the American Dream accessible to all. To mark fifty years after his passing, I invite you to join me in commemorating Dr. King’s good work and impact by redoubling our efforts to fulfill his vision for a just and inclusive America.

Jennifer Jones Austin is the CEO and Executive Director at FPWA and is co-host of a segment about poverty and national policy for the nationally syndicated radio show, Keepin’ It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton, which airs Thursdays at 2:00 pm ET.