Martin Luther King’s Letter To PresidentObama
concerned that Negroes are imprisoned for drug related offences at 10 times the rate of whites even though 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as Negroes. I was heartbrokenwhen I heard about what happened to Trayvon Martin, a young man cut down in his prime just because of the color of his skin. I pray that God Almighty will comfort his family.I once said that a curious formula seemed to declare that a Negro was fifty percent of aperson because at the time, the Negro had half of the good things of whites and twice of thebad things of whites. I still stand by that claim. Today, the unemployment rate for Negro menis 15% compared to 7 % for whites; the median income for black men is 67% of that of whitemen; 8 per cent of the Negro population has lost the right to vote as a result of a felonyconviction compared to 2% for other races.We also need to be mindful of what my Brother Malcolm X called “token solutions”. While oneneeds to celebrate the successes of the token Negroes living in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity, one should not forget the many Negroes living on the lonely island of poverty. There are many Negroes oppressed by racism, who do not have the clout, educationor resources to overcome the consequences of racism. I am a bit disappointed with some of those Negroes who have crossed the color line, but have not bothered to look back at their brothers and sisters suffering the ravages of racism. Sometimes, they look down on the lessfortunate Negroes and tell them to lift themselves by their own bootstrap. While Iacknowledge the importance of personal responsibility, many of our Negroes who W.E. DuBois called the Talented Tenth, who Edward Franklin Frazier called Black Bourgeoisie, whoMalcolm X called uppity Negroes and who Michael Dyson calls the Afristocracy fail to or refuse to look at the structural factors that cause the Negro to remain down. And I said before“It is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he should lift himself up by his own bootstraps.It is even worse to tell a man to lift himself up by his own bootstraps when somebody isstanding on the boot.”I was disappointed to see a key part of the Voting Right Act, which my colleagues and I foughtrelentlessly for, struck down by the Supreme Court in June this year. I worry that this gives anumber of States in the South the motivation to revise their election laws, which could resultin the disenfranchisement of Negro voters in these states.Where do you stand in the scheme of things? You have made some bold statements on racelike your “A More Perfect Union Speech” in response to the Pastor Jeremiah Wright saga andyour recent comment in respect of the Trayvon Martin incident. Furthermore, the AttorneyGeneral’s suggestion on the need for a national race conversation is commendable. While Iam conscious of the fact that you are President of United States of America and not thePresident of Negro America, I urge you to do more in addressing racism, especially theinstitutional form.
Although I am appreciative that I am celebrated for my stance on racism, I am a bit perplexedthat my stance on economic injustice is generally ignored. Just as I was passionate aboutfighting racism, I was equally passionate about fighting economic injustice, which affects thebrotherhood of man whether black, brown or white. It is interesting to see how there has beenan overemphasis on my words, “
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live ina nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character
”; while many don’t know that shortly before my death, I was planning a Poor People’s Campaign. The plan was to lead poor black and white people to build tentsettlements on the National Mall, something similar to what the Occupy Wall Street movementdid at Zuccotti Park.It is unfortunate that in today’s America many white and Negroes live on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. In short, while a number of peopleare living the American dream, many are experiencing the American nightmare especially inthe aftermath of the Great Recession. I am concerned about the level of economic inequalityin America. A country in which one per cent of the population controls 42 per cent of thewealth; a country in which those earning over $300,000 see their income increase by 33