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Dream For Racial & Income Equality Still Deferred

Virginia Tech

Martin Luther King Junior gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech in the summer of 1963.  But the findings of the Race and Policy Center at Virginia Tech say, not much has changed when it comes to King’s major goals.

According to people who knew him, “The War on Poverty" campaign” was Dr. King’s top priority.  It was the issue that brought him to Memphis, Tennessee where he was assassinated in 1968.   Wornie Reed is director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech, where they’ve been crunching the numbers on poverty and race.

He says, “There is nothing that King was fighting for that is better now, than when he died; Nothing.”

Researchers looked at income disparity between whites and blacks, controlling for education levels and even what subject people majored in.

“In 1967, blacks earned 66 cents for every dollar whites earned, among full time workers.  In 2005 they earned 67 cents for every dollar.”

Reed says, there’s just one word for that, “That’s 'racism 'and it’s persisted through all of this time.” 

According to the data, the poverty rate in the U.S. has remained the same for people of all races, but it’s gone up slightly among children. A dream still deferred, more than fifty years after King was killed.

Reed wants to remind people; it’s important to understand the nuance of his message. He says, over the years, King’s legacy has been over simplified. And that today, people often think of him as someone who’s main goal was peace among the races.

“Martin Luther King was not pursuing peace between the races as any kind of intermediate thing. It was not anything he talked about a lot, except perhaps as a goal for the long run.  In fact, he used to say, ‘peace is not just the absence of tension, peace is the presence of justice and until there no justice, there will be no peace.’” 

Reed says King’s dream, of racial equality and economic justice has not yet been met, more than fifty years after he was assassinated.

The annual Winter Summit, ‘Dialogue on Race’ is this Saturday in Christiansburg. Among the topics…."How do we develop relationships that challenge racism?”  To register, click here: