Dr. King was principally about three things; defeating war, racism and poverty in society. Not just with respect to Black America, or Black Americans, but with and in America herself. He felt that America cried for freedom, but then acted in a way that actually kept her from achieving these lofty ends. Dr. King essentially achieved his goal (institutionally and structurally that is) when it came to defeating racism, and my personal hero and friend (Ambassador) Andrew Young was right there by his side. When it came to war, he essentially achieved his goals here too, with the eventual ending of the Vietnam War, though I am sure he thought he had much more work to do here.
The place where he began his work, but his life was cut short well before he could even substantially initiate his strategy or plan, was the work to eradicate poverty as we know it. That said, Dr. King leaves two powerful markers (amongst others) with respect to his priorities for himself, and his intellectually powerful questions for us all.
Dr. King's last movement, launched in 1968, was the Poor People's Campaign. This movement was thwarted essentially before it could be begun, with the assassination of Dr. King.
Finally, Dr. King wrote a final book, entitled WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE: Chaos or Community? where he lays out both more of his vision, but almost more powerfully, his questions. Questions that I believe now, we must all answer, for ourselves, and in our own communities.
Operation HOPE (HOPE) has decided to do our part in helping to inspire answers, to at least some of the powerful questions raised by Dr. King in his last book, and to answer, at least in part, some of the challenge and challenges, that he laid before us with his final movement.
The work of HOPE itself is our active symbol of respect for Dr. King's work, and a tipping of the hat of respect, to his last and final movement. The Poor People's Campaign.
"…You cannot legislate goodness, and you cannot force someone to respect you. The only way to achieve social justice in a capitalist society, is ownership." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As HOPE plans its HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit on November 14th-15th, 2012, in Atlanta, Georgia, I found myself drawn to Dr. King's final book, and to that question — 'where do we go from here, chaos or community?' I decided that we had to do our part, to help inspire America, Americans, and likewise, people all around thie world, to try to 'answer' part of this incredibly important question. And this is why we have launched our very ambitious plan around Local Financial Inclusion Meetings, which are tied to and will help inform our deliberations around the coming Global Summit. In these meetings — some organized by HOPE but hopefully many, many others, having absolutely nothing to do with us at all, both here and around the world — there will only be one rule. And that is no complaining about how bad things are. We all already know that. Participants, hosts, congeners and contributors, must come with solutions, suggestions, recommendations and plans even, to make our world better. Quoting Ambassador Young, "to make free enterprise and capitalism work for all of God's children."
You will hear much more about this work, plan, meetings and activities in the weeks and months to come, but this movement starts here. Right here. Right now. Right, with you.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE, Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in the U.S., and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.