Over the years, I’ve written more than a dozen articles for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They included his most famous quotes, how a day to celebrate King was finally approved, and how it’s a day of service, not a day off.
But one of ones I liked the best was on King’s commitment to eliminating poverty. I found it when I did research on what were King’s thoughts about consumers.
In his last book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” written in 1967, King said programs to improve housing and education and to offer counseling to families were sporadically funded and uncoordinated. And, in addition, he said such programs are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.
King supported a guaranteed income for all Americans in his book.
The official poverty rate was 11.4 percent in 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, up 1 percent from 2019.
What can citizens do to help eliminate poverty in the United States? Here are some suggestions:
- Make donations to your local food banks and homeless shelters.
- Volunteer at a Head Start program.
- Join organizations that help the poor such as No Kid Hungry.
- Donate to a local scholarship fund for low-income students.
- Join efforts to revitalize low-income areas of your community.
- Run for your local city council or school board, and be a voice for programs to help poor people.
- Support organizations that help bring economic development to the poor in environmentally sensitive ways.
- Help children and teens in need.
- Donate to and volunteer at libraries.
- Support health care reform so more people can get coverage.
In addition, the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is an opportunity each year for Americans across the country to take action to make communities more equitable.
AmeriCorps has been leading this effort for the past 25 years. Check out its website to find volunteer opportunities in your area.