46 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In his last years, King focused his work on addressing the intersections between economic inequality, poverty and race. King was in Memphis to support the Memphis Sanitation Strike, a critical first campaign in his larger Poor People’s Campaign.
In his last speech, King said, “Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through. And when we have our march, you need to be there. If it means leaving work, if it means leaving school — be there. Be concerned about your brother. You may not be on strike. But either we go up together, or we go down together.”
46 years after Dr. King spoke those words, economic and racial inequality are more strongly connected than ever. As we see in this article, income inequality is growing in our city. Chicago’s staggering economically polarization is concentrated in communities of color, and nearly entirely in neighborhoods where CPS closed more that fifty Chicago Public Schools last year.
We cannot stop our work to combat poverty. JCUA is committed to addressing economic inequality in our city and state. That is why we are members of the A Better Illinois coalition. By working with A Better Illinois on changing Illinois’ flat rate income tax system, we are not only advocating for a more fair income tax. We are also advocating for a solution to Illinois’ massive deficit and the resulting cuts in vital programs and services for the economically marginalized. Together, we can stop the growing stratification in Chicago and draw a new map with more just colors.