Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his fight against discrimination and a lack of equality for the black community. He also fought for income inequality, which is still an issue today. His assassination occurred while he was giving his support to a sanitation worker strike, and although the strike was in part racially charged it was more about unfair wages. Much of King’s work was to fight the existing income inequality.
On the civil rights front King’s mission was very successful. No longer are our laws based on a person’s race and all persons share the same rights. This is not to say discrimination does not exist but in only a few decades the country has made great strides in that area thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. It is a shame though he was not able to complete his other endeavors like income inequality. However, his message has not faded and if anything it has become stronger in recent months. The heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement is about income inequality and it has turned the national conversation to the problems of growing income inequality.
It is not only good that the problem of income inequality is getting attention but it is also necessary. An important figure to know is average household income. The graph shows household income has grown considerably more for households in the top 5 percent than households in the lower 4th quintile.
So what does this mean? It means, as the Occupy Movement has said and what Dr. King knew back the 60’s, income inequality is present. And unlike other statistics that show income inequality this is important for two reasons. One, household income is a number that actually matters to people. It actually shows how much money people have to spend. And two, this helps us to understand why, although everyone has the same rights, minorities still tend to be stuck in the lower class. We see people who were poor in the 60’s are still poor today. The problem stems from the fact the rich just keep getting richer and it is difficult to break the cycle of poverty when social mobility is getting worse every year. What this means is that if you are born into a poor family you are mostly likely going to be poor in the future.
Martin Luther King Jr. set out on a difficult mission and was able to accomplish great things in such a short time. It is inspiring to see his message continues to bear weight in today’s society. It is important that his message continues on because many of the problems he saw are still prevalent. And it is important for people to recognize things like income inequality are a problem and something about it must be done.