The Legacy of MLK for Today’s America

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words continue to resonate today because they address the fundamental issues of equality and justice that still affect society. His message of nonviolence and civil rights applies to many current events and societal issues, including police brutality, racial discrimination, and income inequality.

The statistics tell a troubling story of the persistent disparities between Black Americans and white Americans. Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty compared to white Americans. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2019, the poverty rate for Black Americans was 18.8%, while the poverty rate for white Americans was 7.3%.

Black Americans also have significantly lower rates of college education compared to White Americans. In 2019, only 22% of Black Americans aged 25 and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 34% of White Americans. African American homeownership rate is also significantly lower than that of white Americans. In 2020, the homeownership rate for Black Americans was 44.1%, compared to 73.7% for white Americans.

As of 2021, the incarceration rate for black Americans is about 5 times higher than the incarceration rate for white Americans. According to the NAACP, as of 2021, African Americans constitute 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population. Black Americans are also disproportionately killed by police. According to a study by the Washington Post, in 2020, Black Americans were shot by police at a rate of 2.8 times higher than white Americans.

Black Americans also face higher rates of unemployment and a wider wage gap compared to white Americans. The unemployment rate for Black Americans in 2020 was 9.9%, while the unemployment rate for white Americans was 6.3%. The racial wage gap is also significant, with African American workers earning on average only 80 cents for every dollar earned by white workers.

Righting the wrongs of the legacy of slavery in America is critical to achieving true racial equality and dismantling the barriers that have long separated white and black people in the country. The legacy of slavery continues to impact Black Americans today in the form of economic disparities, inadequate education, and systematic racism. Addressing these issues is not only important for Black Americans but for all marginalized groups, as it would help to create a more just and equitable society for all. Furthermore, ending the racial barrier would benefit all Americans by fostering unity, understanding and cooperation. It would also help to create a more inclusive and harmonious society where everyone can succeed regardless of their race.

Despite these challenges, King’s legacy remains as important today as it was during his lifetime. His message of equality and justice continues to inspire and guide those who fight for civil rights. We can honor his legacy by continuing to work towards a society where everyone has equal opportunities and is treated with dignity and respect. This includes pushing for policies that address systemic racism, investing in education and job training programs, and supporting organizations that work to advance civil rights.

Leading with Compassion, Courage & Authenticity

If the Coronavirus has taught us anything about what’s truly real about operating a business in America, it’s that people being available, healthy and happy are vital. Unfortunately there may never be a full proof safe guard against an unexpected Pandemic but people getting sick wasn’t the only negative outcome that many businesses suffered. Mental health challenges, attractive unemployment benefits and travel restrictions led to unprecedented labor shortages that are still affecting many businesses today. One perspective an affected business could have is that there was nothing they could do under such extreme circumstances. Another perspective is that it should be their responsibility as a business to create forward-thinking humanistic policies and put measures in place that keep their employees both happy and healthy. Embracing and creatively employing innovative concepts like this could have value in mitigating future labor challenges.

So when we talk about practical application, we don’t have to look much further than something that’s been around for a long time. That thing is Corporate Social Responsibility. The key however is to reimagine CSR to encompass Employee Resource Groups and Diversity Equity and Inclusion initiatives while emphasizing community engagement. I see this as connecting an action to the responsibility. Creating such a radical paradigm shift demands that we employ it by shifting the way we see leadership and changing the way we cultivate and discuss culture within an organization. Leading with compassion, courage and authenticity gets at the heart of all this. Engaging your workforce with a more human approach could pay huge dividends in the way that people feel valued, making them happier. To be authentically inclusive and to see people as true equals requires a level of compassion. It takes courage to move out of your comfort zone to engage in activities with people that you don’t know, or to have an uncomfortable conversation. Authenticity permeates everything, telling the people you encounter that your courageous or compassionate acts are done because you want to and not because you have to.

As the leader of any organization, leading with compassion, courage and authenticity will create an environment of trust and loyalty that can withstand unforeseen challenges.