Category Archives: Poverty

Martin Luther King Jr.’s final, lesser-known campaign is more relevant than ever

Source: A.T. McWilliams, Quartz, April 4, 2018

In the weeks leading up to his assassination 50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was preparing for his greatest demonstration yet. The Poor People’s Campaign—King’s coalition across racial groups, united in their fight to end poverty— aimed to recruit over 1 million people to occupy the National Mall. From Latino farmers’ rights activists to white Appalachian coal miners, King’s lesser-known dream sought to bring disparate communities together in the name of economic justice.

In planning the Poor People’s Campaign, King didn’t just set the stage for a new chapter of the civil rights movement. He provided a playbook for modern progressive politics, centered on the power of multicultural movements. Now, as the American working class includes more and more people of color—and Donald Trump tempts white voters with false promises—progressives can best honor King’s legacy by taking a page from the book he left behind….

KING: Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, his legacy is still being written

Source: The Atlantic, Special Issue, 2018

Articles Include:

The Chasm Between Racial Optimism and Reality
JEFFREY GOLDBERG
Five decades after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., equality, for many, remains a distant dream.

I. THE MAN
My Father Chose Nonviolence
BERNICE A. KING
During another polarizing period in America’s history, Bernice A. King lays out three actions that she thinks her father would offer today.

The Young Man Who Became a Civil-Rights Icon
PATRICK PARR
Before he led the Montgomery bus boycott or marched on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. was a chain-smoking, pool-playing student at Crozer Theological College just discovering his passion for social justice.

The Arc of a Life
ELI LEE
A timeline

How Martin Luther King Jr. Recruited John Lewis
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The Georgia congressman on what it was like to know the iconic activist

Coretta Scott King and the Civil-Rights Movement’s Hidden Women
JEANNE THEOHARIS
She was far more than her husband’s helpmate, but along with many other leaders of the era, her leadership was hidden in plain sight.

‘Martin Luther King Jr.’s Unfinished Work on Earth Must Truly Be Our Own’
BENJAMIN E. MAYS
Five days after King was assassinated, his “spiritual mentor” Benjamin Mays delivered a eulogy for his former student.

Martin Luther King Jr. Saw Three Evils in the World
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Racism was only the first.

II. RACISM
On Equality
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In 1967, the civil-rights leader foresaw that white resistance to racial equality would stiffen as activists’ economic agenda grew more ambitious.

Racism Is ‘Built into the Very Bones’ of Mississippi
JESMYN WARD
Jesmyn Ward reflects on choosing to raise her children in her home state.

The Whitewashing of King’s Assassination
VANN R. NEWKIRK II
The death of Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t a galvanizing event, but the premature end of a movement that had only just begun.

‘Let My People Vote’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In June 1965, the Voting Rights Act languished in the House Rules Committee after passage in the Senate. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote this letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging its passage as the first step in ensuring access to the ballot.

Jesse Williams and John Legend Talk Race in America
ADRIENNE GREEN
“America is cool because of black people. Our music is black. Our aesthetic is black … We are as American as you can be, and what do we get for it?”

III. POVERTY
The Crisis in America’s Cities
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Martin Luther King Jr. on what sparked the violent urban riots of the “long hot summer” of 1967

Where Have All the Rioters Gone?
MATTHEW DESMOND
Good jobs in black communities have disappeared, evictions are the norm, and extreme poverty is rising. Cities should be exploding—but they aren’t.

The Geography of Oppression
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER
Shooting from a helicopter, the artist LaToya Ruby Frazier documented how King’s assassination affected the physical structures of cities.

How Much Had Schools Really Been Desegregated by 1964?
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Ten years after Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr. condemned how little had changed in the nation’s classrooms.

Still Separate and Unequal
EVE L. EWING
The civil-rights activist’s vision for education was far grander than integration alone. How disappointed he would be.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Call For a Poor People’s Campaign
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
In early 1968, the activist planned a massive protest in the nation’s capital.

America’s Moral Malady
WILLIAM J. BARBER II
The nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails society.

How the Civil-Rights Movement Aimed to End Poverty
A. PHILIP RANDOLPH AND BAYARD RUSTIN
“A Freedom Budget for All Americans” proposed spending billions of federal dollars to provide jobs and basic welfare to all citizens.

IV. MILITARISM
Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom.”

Freedom Ain’t Free
CLINT SMITH
Martin Luther King Jr. was bailed out of Birmingham Jail by a millionaire. Incarcerated people today aren’t so lucky.

The Civil-Rights Movement’s Generation Gap
BREE NEWSOME
Activist Bree Newsome on bridging the divided perspectives of the young and old.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Protest Against a Racist Court System
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
On Easter Sunday in 1958, the civil-rights leader led a “prayer pilgrimage” in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the inequality of a young man’s death sentence.

How Kara Walker Recasts Racism’s Bitter Legacy
ADRIENNE GREEN
The artist’s works turn the brutality of history inside out.

Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
“The greatest irony and tragedy of all is that our nation, which initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world, is now cast in the mold of being an arch anti-revolutionary.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Mourns Trayvon Martin
LAUREN K. ALLEYNE
A poem

Related:
Nonviolence and Social Change
Source: Martin Luther King Jr., 1967

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr delivered a lecture calling on the “dispossessed of this nation” to revolt in nonviolent struggle. We reprint it here in full.

Estimating the Economic Cost of Childhood Poverty in the United States

Source: Michael McLaughlin, Mark R Rank, Social Work Research, Advance Articles, Published: March 30, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Poverty has been an issue of ongoing concern for social work practitioners and researchers over the decades. The societal impact of poverty on a broad range of problems is widely acknowledged throughout the field. However, one vital piece of information regarding poverty has often been missing—its economic cost. This study presents new estimates into the annual costs of childhood poverty in the United States by updating earlier research and including previously unmeasured costs. Cost-measurement analysis indicates that the annual aggregate cost of U.S. child poverty is $1.0298 trillion, representing 5.4% of the gross domestic product. These costs are clustered around the loss of economic productivity, increased health and crime costs, and increased costs as a result of child homelessness and maltreatment. In addition, it is estimated that for every dollar spent on reducing childhood poverty, the country would save at least seven dollars with respect to the economic costs of poverty. The implications of these findings are discussed.

MLK’s vision matters today for the 43 million Americans living in poverty

Source: Joshua F.J. Inwood, The Conversation, April 2, 2018

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, while fighting for a 10-cent wage increase for garbage workers. These efforts by King were part of a broader and more sustained initiative known as the Poor People’s Campaign.

King was working to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement to include poverty and the end of the war in Vietnam. King and his leadership team planned to bring thousands of poor people to Washington, D.C., where they would camp out on the National Mall until Congress passed legislation to eradicate poverty.

King was convinced that for the civil rights movement to achieve its goals, poverty needed to become a central focus of the movement. He believed the poor could lead a movement that would revolutionize society and end poverty. As King noted, “The only real revolutionary, people say, is a man who has nothing to lose. There are millions of poor people in this country who have little, or nothing to lose.”

With over 43 million people living in poverty in the United States today, King’s ideas still hold much power.

Related:
Martin Luther King Jr. had a much more radical message than a dream of racial brotherhood
Source: Paul Harvey, The Conversation, March 30, 2018

How Far Do SNAP Benefits Fall Short of Covering the Cost of a Meal?

Source: Elaine Waxman, Craig Gundersen, Megan Thompson, Urban Institute, February 22, 2018

From the abstract:
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aims to reduce hunger and food insecurity by supplementing the purchasing power of low-income families. This analysis explores the adequacy of SNAP benefits by comparing the maximum SNAP benefit per meal with the average cost of a low-cost meal in the U.S., adjusting for geographic variations in food prices across counties in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC. We find that average cost of a low-income meal is $2.36, 27 percent higher than the SNAP maximum benefit per meal of $1.86, which takes into account the maximum benefit available to households of varying sizes. The SNAP per meal benefit does not cover the cost of a low-income meal in 99 percent of US continental counties and the District of Columbia.

Related:
Interactive map showing this data at the county level

Drug Overdose Rates Are Highest in Places With the Most Economic and Family Distress

Source: Shannon Monnat, Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire, National Issue Brief #134, Spring 2018

From the summary:
The U.S. drug overdose problem has reached epidemic levels, prompting President Trump to declare a public health emergency. Since 2000, 786,781 people in the United States have died from drug overdoses and other drug-related causes, with nearly 40 percent of those deaths occurring in the last three years alone.

The news media regularly portrays the drug overdose epidemic as a national crisis, but some places have much higher drug mortality rates than others. On average, rates are higher in counties with higher levels of economic distress and family dissolution, and they are lower in counties with a larger per capita presence of religious establishments. These findings hold even when controlling for demographic differences, urban or rural status, and health care supply.

KEY FINDINGS
– In 2016, the national drug-related mortality rate per 100,000 persons ranged from a low of 9.9 in Nebraska to a high of 60.3 in West Virginia.
– From 2006 to 2015, counties with the highest levels of economic distress experienced an average of 7.9 more drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest levels. This difference is the equivalent of nearly 40,000 excess deaths in the most economically distressed counties over the 10-year period.
– Counties with the highest levels of family dissolution (divorce/separation and single-parent families) had an average of 8.1 more drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest levels.
– Counties with the highest per capita presence of religious establishments had an average of 4.7 fewer drug-related deaths per 100,000 persons than counties with the lowest presence of religious establishments.

Related:
Press Release

State of the Union

Source: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality, Pathways, Special Issue, 2018

From the summary:
The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality is pleased to present its fifth annual report examining the state of the union. In this year’s report, we provide a comprehensive assessment of gender inequality in eleven domains ranging from education to health, employment, earnings, poverty, sexual harassment, networks, and more. The report concludes with a discussion of the most promising sciencebased policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market.

Articles include:
Gender Identification
Aliya Saperstein
The traditional gender binary just doesn’t work. When respondents of a national survey were asked about their femininity and masculinity, 7 percent considered themselves equally feminine and masculine, and another 4 percent responded in ways that did not “match” their sex at birth (i.e., females who saw themselves as more masculine than feminine, or males who saw themselves as more feminine than masculine).

Education
Erin M. Fahle and Sean F. Reardon
Despite common beliefs to the contrary, male students do not consistently outperform female students in mathematics. It’s only in high school that the male advantage in mathematics surfaces. What’s going on?

Health
Mark Duggan and Valerie Scimeca
For women and men alike, life expectancy has stagnated for the last several years, primarily due to increases in drug poisoning deaths and in the suicide rate. The male-female life expectancy gap, which favors females, fell from 7.6 years in 1970 to 4.8 years in 2010, a reduction of more than one-third.

Employment
Melissa S. Kearney and Katharine G. Abraham
After rising steadily for many decades, the overall female employment rate has been falling since 2000. Why has it fallen? Are there straightforward policy fixes that could increase women’s employment?

Earnings
Emmanuel Saez
When gender differences in labor force participation, fringe benefits, and self-employment income are taken into account, women earn only 57 cents for each dollar earned by men.

Poverty
H. Luke Shaefer, Marybeth Mattingly, and Kathryn Edin
Are women more likely than men to be in deep poverty, official poverty, and near poverty? Yes, yes, and yes.

Safety Net
Linda M. Burton, Marybeth Mattingly, Juan Pedroza, and Whitney Welsh
Why do women use safety net programs more than men? A hint: It’s not just because they’re more likely to be eligible for them.

Occupational Segregation
Kim A. Weeden, Mary Newhart, and Dafna Gelbgiser
Nearly half of the women in the labor force would have to move to a different occupation to eliminate all occupational segregation by gender. This is a classic case of stalled change: If recent rates of change are extrapolated, it would take 330 years to reach full integration.

Discrimination
David S. Pedulla
A new science of gender discrimination is being built with audit studies and other experiments. A key result: Gender discrimination is more likely to emerge when the applicant’s commitment to work can be called into question or when an applicant is behaving in a gender-nonconforming way.

Workplace Sexual Harassment
Amy Blackstone, Heather McLaughlin, and Christopher Uggen
The workplace is rife with sexual harassment. By age 25 to 26, one in three women and one in seven men experience behavior at work that they define as sexual harassment.

Social Networks
Adina D. Sterling
Although men used to have more social ties than men, now the gender gap has reversed and women have the larger networks. But women still have fewer coworker ties than men … and coworker ties matter a lot.

Policy
Marianne Cooper and Shelley J. Correll
What are the most promising science-based policies for reducing gender inequality at home and in the labor market?

The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes

Source: Andrew Aurand, Dan Emmanuel, Diane Yentel, Ellen Errico, Marjorie Pang, National Low Income Housing Coalition, March 2018
About the Gap Report
Each year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) measures the availability of rental housing affordable to extremely low income households and other income groups. Based on the American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS), The Gap presents data on the affordable housing supply and housing cost burdens at the national, state, and metropolitan levels. This year’s report also examines the demographics, disability and work status, and other characteristics of extremely low income households most impacted by the national shortage of affordable and available rental housing.

Who are the Lowest Income Renters?
Of the 43.8 million renter households in the U.S., 11.2 million (more than one-quarter) have extremely low incomes at or below the poverty level or 30% of the area median income (AMI), whichever is higher. Extremely low income renters are more likely to be elderly or disabled or to have children than other renters. Nearly half (46%) of extremely low income renter households are elderly or disabled. Black and Hispanic renter households are more likely to be extremely low income than white renters. Thirty-five percent of the 8.5 million non-Hispanic black renter households and 29% of the 8.4 million Hispanic renter households are extremely low-income. In comparison, 21% of the 23.2 million non-Hispanic white renter households are extremely low income…..

Related:
Interactive map