“An Economically Equal America”- Valeria Flores

Contemporary Black American society has been the victim of many social, political, and economic issues throughout the years. Many activists during the Civil Rights Movements leading up to recent times, brought attention to these issues they found within society in hopes to bring about solutions for the future generations to come. Not only have these issues been evident in the past, but they have been very much present in today’s society as seen through the economic discrepancies between Black Americans and those of different races. Although there is now more of an economic equality presence, in which there are more job opportunities, Black Americans still earn marginally less than those who are White Americans. Based on the data that was collected by a certified employee benefits specialist, Stephen Miller, Black American men make $0.87 cents compared to the $1.00 that is made by White American men. Black American women however, make $0.60 cents in comparison. Even though equal pay among different races has been a fight that began as early as the Civil Rights Movement, it is still far from being resolved. The issues of poverty and unjust treatment are prominent in today’s modern day society and it especially has an effect on contemporary Black America. Economic inequality has added more struggles onto already existing ones faced by Black Americans. Not only do they get paid less, but they are unable to obtain jobs as easily as the latter race. Black Americans are stereotyped and thought of as less even if they show to have an education adequate enough to fulfill the job. Less opportunities are available and when applying for a job, they are the last to get considered. It is an unjust system that deprives Black Americans from a simple opportunity and it has been ongoing for many years. Contemporary Black America suffers from this economic issue and it has been brought to the attention of the people through many African American activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was one of the many who seeked a solution to the unjust economic system as he wanted those part of the Black American community to have the same opportunities as their White American counterparts. 

I, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., am a Black American activist born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929, a time in which there is a developing cry for Black American representation. I have immersed myself with those of the community and have become an essential part as a Baptist Minister at my church and for the role I play in the Civil Rights Movement that’s taking place now in the 1950s. I strive to give a voice to those who lack representation. Through a passive and non-violent approach, I believe we will get our point across! Boycotts and marches will be conducted and led but none will be with the hopes of resulting in violence. Although I know that violence is part of this movement as seen with the horrendous hostile behavior, assault, and often the murder of Black people on the part of law enforcement, we have to work against this tide! Let us utilize this as a means to garner national and international attention! We will be peaceful protesters who will call for action using our own voices rather than our fists! Thus, speeches will be constantly given in places where many would gather in hopes that those who hear his message would follow and spread these same ideas. I have dreams and aspirations that one day there would be no more segregation or racism within our society, that there will be equality among all of us regardless of race. Although it is one of the hardest issues we have encountered, we will restlessly fight to achieve the  economic equality we so dearly deserve. Nothing is impossible if we are dedicated to the cause and show to the oppressors that we will not stand down until our justice is achieved. It is a process that won’t happen overnight but our persistence and determination will pave the way for many future generations of activists. Throughout the years, we have gained a following and what we preach will not be forgotten and will be memorialized and taught at many institutions in efforts to keep the fight for equality alive. Together, we will symbolize a figure of hope for those who believe they have no voice as a part of the Black American community. 

I will respond to the economic issue regarding a lack of equality in opportunities in a contemporary Black American society in the way that I will continue to do what I did before, by bringing this concern to the attention of the masses! I will continue to peacefully advocate for there to be more equality and a proper distribution of jobs among those who were not part of the “White American” society. I will proudly and sternly stand in front of crowds consisting of a sea of people and inform them of the harsh reality. I will explain the economic issue in terms that would be simple for ALL to understand just as I did so in my speech, “Where Do We Go From Here?”, given at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention that took place in Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967. Through a loving tone, I brought many of the issues I found within society to the table. Starting off by reiterating the importance that violence is never the solution and that “darkness cannot put our darkness”, I go into the details of my main concerns. I pose the question, ““Why are there forty million poor people in America?” And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising a question about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth…Now, when I say questioning the whole society, it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.” I want to know why there were so many living in poverty when there are enough job opportunities! I’ve tried coming to different plausible conclusions and I see how the economic issue is interrelated with two others but in the end, it all leads to injustices faced by us who are part of the African American minority. I have centered this speech around what the next steps to resolve these issues will be. We will no longer be ignored as these issues have already been brought to light and to the eyes of those who want to believe there is nothing wrong!

The place where I, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will stand in regards to this issue of economic injustice is with my community, the underrepresented minority that is Black Americans. I will stand by those I once stood by in the past and will continue to speak upon the issues I hoped would not be present today in society. As I said on August 28, 1963, when I passionately delivered my “I Have a Dream Speech” at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, “But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” The level of concern I have and the outrage I feel that this is still an issue needing to be addressed is unmatched. In this modern day, I urge there to be a redistribution of wealth and seek a solution that will be fair. I know this is something that would be easier said than done, but like we have done in the past we will not rest until we know we have done all that we could to create change. I greatly want to create an equal opportunity for everyone to have a chance to be successful in society no matter what race they are. There have been more actions taken in modern day that help redistribute the wealth and the job opportunities but there is still a lack of complete equality. This is still due to the underlying discrmination within “progressive” society. It is not limited to this reason alone, but it is the ultimate, rather than the proximate cause. The idea that all those who work are able to make it to the top, is a lie within society. Racial dicrimination within society impedes this from being the umbrella statement those claim it to be. This is a concern that needs to be addressed in any of the speeches as immediate change is sought after.

The cause and solutions that I would consider, regarding the economic issue found within contemporary Black American society, would be that since there is little to no voice given to those of the minority, the solution would be to hope that capitalism would collapse on itself to prevent further injustices. I, personally, once viewed capitalism to be the solution to this economic issue, but then realized it became more of a nightmare rather than a dream as I even stated in his sermon, “The American Dream”, at Ebenezer Baptist.  I recall saying, “So yes, the dream has been shattered, (Amen) and I have had my nightmarish experiences, but I tell you this morning once more that I haven’t lost the faith. (No, sir) I still have a dream (A dream, Yes, sir) that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits. (Yes) I still have a dream this morning: (Yes) one day all of God’s black children will be respected like his white children.” Although what I once believed to be the solution to this economic issue found within contemporary Black American society was actually detrimental, I will never give up hope that one day there will be equality among all. I will determindly continue to find methods to help those who are underrepresented and would take matters into his own hands. The solution to the problem of economic inequality that I would pursue would be one that would place all races on an equal playing field. We will lead more protests and demand fair chances at labor. We have endured this oppression long enough! Justice is long overdue and we have been patient for far too long. It is time that we seek immediate action and a solution to this issue. I want to bring awareness to the media and declare that we will no longer tolerate being portrayed as anything less than the humans we are!

Works Cited 

  • “The American Dream.” The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute, 9 July 2014, kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/publications/knock-midnight-inspiration-great-sermons-reverend-martin-luther-king-jr-4. 
  • “DOUGLASS: Martin Luther King, ‘I Have a Dream,” 28 August 1963.” DOUGLASS | Martin Luther King, “I Have a Dream,” 28 August 1963, hrlibrary.umn.edu/education/lutherspeech.html. 
  • Holzer, Harry J. “Why Are Employment Rates so Low among Black Men?” Brookings, Brookings, 5 Mar. 2021, www.brookings.edu/research/why-are-employment-rates-so-low-among-black-men/. 
  • Reuel Schiller, Mourning King: The Civil Rights Movement and the Fight for Economic Justice, 27 New Lab. F. 12 (2018). Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/faculty_scholarship/1710
  • Stephen Miller, CEBS. “Black Workers Still Earn Less than Their White Counterparts.” SHRM, SHRM, 7 Aug. 2020, www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/compensation/pages/racial-wage-gaps-persistence-poses-challenge.aspx. 
  • “Where Do We Go From Here?” Plough, www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/where-do-we-go-from-here.

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