We are the Children of King

Blog Tom Bennett
January 20, 2020

“The curse of poverty has no justification in our age.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King

Yet poverty remains. It pervades with almost 20 percent of Californians living in poverty – that is roughly eight million of our brothers and sisters. While my generation and the preceding one lived through the turbulent changes in the 60’s and 70’s and were privileged to hear Dr. King’s messages, we are all to some extent children of King’s movement.

Whether you agree with his messages or not, his impact on society has reached down through the generations to change the expectations of the past for a more hopeful future. His commitment to progressions of human rights have changed not just our country, but countries across the world.  

But my question today is how have we, these children of King, honored his legacy?  He demanded that we see our fellow human for their worth and honor their full humanity.  In the work that I do as this means implementing programs that recognize the right to self-determination and abilities of the people we serve. It means moving away from the paternalistic, “we know what’s best for you,” mode of operation. When we in the nonprofit space intentionally work in a way that values self-determination, we will make more progress in eradicating what King referred to as the curse of poverty.

Change is hard. As nonprofits, we have operated in the same way for a long time—building programs and hoping people will come. Creating such well-intentioned initiatives, do not harness an individual’s power, but rather serve to keep them in a place of reliance. As children of King, it’s time for us to move away from simply spouting King’s inspirational messages. It is now time to move into action that honors his legacy.