In “The greatest MLK speeches you never heard,” CNN today highlighted six speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. that are not his famous Dream speech.
On what would have been King’s 86th birthday, we picked from CNN’s list his April 1967 speech at New York’s Riverside Church – a speech that colleagues advised him not to give because they deemed it too divisive. Exactly one year later, King was assassinated.
In this speech, MLK linked the war then raging in Vietnam and the struggle that he and others were waging at home – the struggle against poverty; for as much as MLK is remembered for his work in fighting segregation, his ultimate battle was the Poor People’s Campaign against income inequality.
Martin Luther King was assassinated exactly a year after he gave this speech.
Almost 50 years and several wars later, the black-white income gap has widened. In recognition of Martin Luther King Day, Pew Research Center released statistics showing that while gaps in voter turnout, high school graduation and life expectancy have narrowed or disappeared, the black-white median-income gap has grown since the late 60s by almost 50 percent, from $19,000 to $27,000; the black unemployment rate has stayed at about double that of whites since the 1950s.