MLK’s Jr. Economic and Social Bill of Rights for the Poor, swept under the rug

December 4, 1967, Dr. King and the SCLC announced a campaign called, “The Poor Peoples Campaign,” as King delivered the speech "A kind of social insanity which could lead to national ruin." A month later, the SCLC distributed documents explaining why the campaign was necessary, while King brought media attention to the campaign by demanding full employment, $30 billion for antipoverty, guaranteed income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable residences.16 I find it interesting the lack of information that has been provided on Dr. Kings “Economic and Social Bill of Rights for the Poor”, which he proposed below.

  1. A meaningful job “at a living wage” for every employable citizen.

  1. A secure and adequate income for all who cannot find jobs, or for whom employment is inappropriate.

  1. Access to land as a means to income and livelihood.

  1. Access to Capital as a means of full participation in the economic life of America.

  1. Recognition by law of the rights of people affected by government programs to play a truly significant role in determining how they are designed and carried out.

  1. Recommit the Federal Government to the “Full Employment Act of 1946” and legislate the immediate creation of at least one million socially useful career jobs in public service.

  1. Adopt the pending "House and Urban Development Act of 1968”.

  1. Repeal the 90th Congress’s punitive welfare restrictions in the “1967 Social Security Act”.

  1. Extend to all farm workers the right guaranteed under the “National Labor Relations Act” – to organize agriculture labor unions.

  1. Restore budget cuts for bilingual education, Head Start, summer jobs, “Economic Opportunity Act”, and “Elementary and Secondary Education Acts.”

“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.” Vincent Harding

Have any of you ever heard of a book titled, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” It was the last literary work by Dr. King, before his assassination, in which he advocates for guaranteed income, amongst other ideas. This book should be mandatory material for American students, yet, very few have knowledge of its existence. Also, how many of you are aware of the details surrounding “Resurrection City"? I will share my views concerning the eviction of, “Resurrection City”, in the near future, but for those of you who are not familiar with RC, below is a short description found in Wikipedia. “On Sunday May 12, 1968, demonstrators led by Coretta Scott King began a two-week protest in Washington, D.C., demanding an Economic Bill of Rights. May 12 was Mothers’ Day, and five thousand people marched to protest 1967 cuts to Head Start, as well as Senator Long’s description of mothers on welfare as “brood mares” and other elements of mounting racist stigmatization.” Many to this day continue to question the tactics, and aggressive nature, which were used by law enforcement, to dismantle and evict the individuals who were stationed at “Resurrection City.” (This took place after the assassination of Dr. King) It is well known that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover famously called Martin Luther King Jr., “the most dangerous negro,” while keeping him under close surveillance. It looks like since his assassination, Dr. King’s legacy, and solutions to the American problem, have been altered, and swept under the rug.

Martin Luther King Jr. made a great argument for Black Americans to gain reparations from America in his final literary work. “But underneath, the ambivalence of white America toward the Negro still lurked with painful persistence. With all the beautiful promise that Douglass saw in the Emancipation Proclamation, he too found that it left the Negro with only abstract freedom. Four million newly liberated slaves found themselves with no bread to eat, no land to cultivate, no shelter to cover their heads. It was like freeing a man who had been unjustly imprisoned for years, and on discovering his innocence sending him out with no bus fare to get home, no suit to cover his body, no financial compensation to atone for his long years of incarceration and to help him get a sound footing in society; sending him out with only the assertion: “Now you are free.” What great injustice could society perpetrate? All the moral voices of the universe, all the codes of sound jurisprudence, would rise up with condemnation at such an act. Yet this is exactly what America did to the Negro. In 1863 the Negro was given abstract freedom expressed in luminous rhetoric. But in an agrarian economy he was given no land to make liberation concrete. After the war the government granted white settlers, without cost, millions of acres of land in the West, thus providing Americas new peasants from Europe with an economic floor.” – MLK (Where Do We Go From Here – Chaos or Community?)