John Hope Bryant

Bestselling business leadership author and philanthropic entrepreneur


Solving Poverty: Dr. King's Dream and Silver Rights Not Such a New Idea

As we reflect this year on the 84th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 50th anniversary of the "I Have A Dream" speech, I think about the vast unfinished agenda of Dr. King, launched as the third phase of his vision for a world better. Dr. King had focused first on social justice, then on ending war, and his last and final work was focused on poverty.

His Poor People's Campaign, originally inspired by Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman, now founder of the Children's Defense Fund, focused on eradicating poverty through a radical movement of a government sponsored living wage for all, and on some level the redistribution of the wealth by the top 3 percent. And given his background as a liberal, lettered man of the cloth, Dr. King's approach to poverty eradication made total and complete sense to him, and at that time.

The government had much to say and do with respect to the issues of justice and freedom for blacks, the poor and the underserved in 20th-century America. Further, Dr. King was not a banker or an investor, nor businessman, as his dad was. Dr. King was a man of the cloth, total and complete, and he executed on his vision from God as he saw it, almost perfectly. He did what he was supposed to do, and expected us to do the rest.

Sadly, Dr. King's life and life mission was cut short and he did not get the chance to participate in even the first march of the Poor People's Campaign. He gave his last speech, and led his last march in support of garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee, fighting for a living wage, and dignity, for them. Looking forward, it could be said that Black America along with the rest of us have had our Biblical "lost in the wilderness period," over the last 40-plus years since his death, all was not lost.

Today, Mrs. Marian Wright Edelman's niece, Ms. Deborah Wright, is CEO of Carver Federal Bank, the largest black bank in America today, with close to $1 billion in assets

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