In 1967, in a speech at Atlanta’s Butler Street YMCA, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged the nation to continue fighting for equality.
Three years after the Civil Rights Act made segregation illegal nationwide, Dr. King warned that there was still work to be done in areas such as education; fifty-five years later, his words still ring true.
Dr. King’s argument: follow the money.
The new phase is a struggle for... genuine equality on all levels, and this will be a much more difficult struggle.
You see, the gains in the first period, or the first era of struggle, were obtained from the power structure at bargain rates; it didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate lunch counters. It didn’t cost the nation anything to integrate hotels and motels. It didn’t cost the nation a penny to guarantee the right to vote.
Now we are in a period where it will cost the nation billions of dollars to get rid of poverty, to get rid of slums, to make quality integrated education a reality.
Here in 2022, we’re still following the money.
Great strides have been made in k-12 public education—with significant improvements still needed—yet many families cannot afford high quality early education and care for children ages 0-5.
As a result, parents and caregivers are forced to choose between work and caring for young ones; young children who miss out on effective learning and care are more likely to struggle academically and professionally; and systemic, generational poverty persists.
Haven’t families waited long enough?
This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s pledge to finally make Dr. King’s vision a reality. Let’s create an equitable society by giving all young children and families a fair chance at success.
In the words of Dr. King, let’s be persistent.
“Now let us be sure that we will have to keep the pressure alive,” he said in 1967. “We’ve never made any gain in civil rights without constant, persistent, legal and non-violent pressure.”