As the nation prepares to celebrate what would have been the 85th birthday of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I can’t help but wonder, “What would Dr. King think about our world today?”
Dr. King’s sermons and speeches centered on his dream for equal rights for all. He envisioned a future where all human beings were treated with respect, dignity, and integrity. Dr. King preached about social justice, empowerment, and peace. He also waged war against poverty, labelling it a major challenge similar to racism. In his last major speech before his assassination, Dr. King addressed the issue of poverty, saying “If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness. He merely exists.”
Unfortunately, Dr. King would be disappointed to know that today the number of Americans living below the poverty line exceeds the number who lived in poverty throughout his lifetime. Poverty and homelessness certainly remain two of this country’s most pressing issues.
Here at the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM), we embrace the same beliefs and teachings as Dr. King. We treat our clients with dignity and respect. It doesn’t matter what circumstances led them to seek us out. Human decency entitles them to the same opportunities and treatment as anyone else. We teach our clients job and life skills that enable them to rebuild their lives and become productive citizens in the community.
Martin Luther King Junior Day gives all Americans an opportunity to continue the fight against income inequality and social injustices. The federal holiday is celebrated as a National Day of Service where people volunteer to help those less fortunate and work to solve our nation’s problems.
That’s what Dr. King believed in — making this country a better place. As we honor his life and legacy, I ask you — “What are you doing for others?”