January 15, 2018 under Posts

On MLK Day, Anti-poverty advocate Jennifer Jones Austin Responds with the Following Statement

Trump is the very reason why many of our nation’s schools and school districts need to stop treating MLK Day as just a day of community service. There is a whole generation now grown up that is acquainted with Dr. King as a man engaged in service without fully appreciating what his service was truly about. 

Yes Dr. King was about serving, but he wasn’t volunteering in the soup kitchen, which, unquestionably, is important, or at the children’s community center, which too is important. No, Dr. King’s service was centered on the bigger picture — the reason, in part, why we need soup kitchens and community centers in the first place. Dr. King wasn’t dishing out mashed potatoes; rather, he was serving up a clarion call for all of us to counter racism, bigotry and hatred — to take America to task for its systemic discriminatory treatment of Black people and other persons of color.  

So, thank you Mr. Trump for doing what many in America have failed to do: teach our children what racism and hatred as systemic policy and practice — past and present — look like in America, and what it means to engage in racist behavior, directly and complicitly.

And now that we’re learning and relearning this lesson, what are we going to do? Today, visit community organizations helping those of us struggling, and lend a hand, lend two. But don’t perpetuate the lie by way of omission. Take some time to also recognize what Dr. King was truly about, and honor him and yourselves by doing something in the true spirit of this great man. We all must heed Dr. King’s clarion call, for it’s as relevant today as it was when Dr. King marched on this earth.

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.