The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is rapidly approaching, commemorating the historic Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington.
But 45 years ago, 1968, the year of his assassination, King was waging the Poor People’s Campaign to eradicate poverty. He addressed the congregation at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., saying: “We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I’ve seen it in Latin America; I’ve seen it in Africa; I’ve seen this poverty in Asia.”
King’s words from that National Cathedral speech ring true today, as we face again the crisis of poverty and hunger: “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new is that we now have the techniques and the resources to get rid of poverty. The real question is whether we have the will.”