On April 4, 1968, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, Tennessee. In life, Dr. King made sacrifices and changed lives. As word of his death spread, the world shook. Dr. King fought for civil rights, economic justice, human decency, freedom and fairness. His words and deeds continue to inspire generations of Americans.
In Memphis, sanitation workers were on strike—in the midst of a huge crisis going on in that city. He was in the middle of trying to organize a poor people’s campaign to confront the federal government about racism, poverty and runaway militarism in 1968. Dr. King had come out strongly against the Vietnam War one year to the day before his death. He wanted to channel the money that was going into the military into housing, health care, education, jobs—and sustainable incomes for all people.
Dr. King said, “It’s a crime in a rich nation for people to receive starvation wages.” That remains a basic issue right now across the country, where there are millions of people and children living in poverty. There were 40 million people in poverty in 1968. And today there’s an estimated 43.1 million Americans living in poverty
“The time has come for an all-out war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.
On March 27, I gave a speech on the Senate floor recognizing the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s death. My Senate Resolution 309 was unanimously adopted by the Senate.
Dr. King was a leader who helped usher in great changes. The civil rights movement and new laws which provided for rights and protections for people of color were at the heart of Dr. King’s work. He was also a leader on overcoming poverty and promoting economic justice and he dedicated his life to improving the lives of the less fortunate. Below are links to videos of Dr. King on poverty.