The Problem of Poverty

At the end of his life MLK realized civil rights alone would not solve the problem of poverty and planned another massive march on Washington to force the government to respond.

The following is an excerpt from MLK’s last sermon (3/31/68) on the issue of poverty.

There is another thing closely related to racism that I would like to mention as another challenge. We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world…

How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes evidences of millions of people going to bed hungry at night? How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes God’s children sleeping on the sidewalks at night? …Maybe we spend far too much of our national budget establishing military bases around the world rather than bases of genuine concern and understanding…

And I must confess that in some situations I have literally found myself crying…

I was in Newark and Harlem just this week…This welfare mother…She pointed out the walls with all the ceiling falling through. She showed me the holes where the rats came in. She said night after night we have to stay awake to keep the rats and roaches from getting to the children…

This can happen to America…this is America’s opportunity to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots. The question is whether America will do it. There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.



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