Martin Luther King III carries his father’s famous name and his passion for those who are disenfranchised by poverty and racism. He wants President Obama and his eventual successor to appoint a Poverty Czar, a Cabinet-level position, to combat the problems of poverty in the United States among all communities. The President referenced the persistence of poverty at a recent speech at Georgetown.
Despite America’s wealth, millions of its inhabitants remain mired in poverty, something that seems just as difficult to solve as it ever has. There are at least 11 million children who deal with food insecurity in this country and King thinks it needs to be addressed at the federal level.
“When there are issues that we’re serious about as a nation, when we are dealing with energy, we appoint an energy czar. When we are dealing with Ebola, we appoint an Ebola czar, when we’re dealing with certain trade issues, we have czars sometimes. I think at the highest levels of government we need someone who can convene business leaders, community leaders and religious leaders as a small segment of our society… A person who has the bully pulpit to say ‘I’m going to deal with this issue.’
Back in 1967, my dad was talking about a living wage. In fact, he was killed because he was talking about a economic equality for all. We really just have not made the kind of economic progress we should. We really need to roll up our sleeves and finally make this effort real.”
Although there is a lot of talk in politics about the middle class, and there will be more during the upcoming 2016 presidential campaign, the problems of the poor usually get short shrift and that’s what King wants put on the national agenda.
“Part of Ferguson, part of Baltimore, whenever we see folks rise up and destroy those communities, its because folks are sick and tired of being in the same conditions that we’ve been in for years. Rat and roach infested housing is unacceptable in 2015. Those are things we can resolve. But beyond that, when there’s no training and no jobs, when we have an abysmal public school system…why don’t we just duplicate the victories like Marva Collins in Chicago…and Geoffrey Canada and others in New York? There are examples in other cities. Why aren’t we duplicating those things? We need more engagement at the national level.”
Read on as King sets the record straight on reports of his siblings battling for control of portions of his father’s estate.