Continuing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Work, Addressing Economic Inequities

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream extended beyond civil and political rights. Dr. King’s work included a fight on the economic front as well.  Six decades later we are still working to gain economic fairness for marginalized groups. Here is a glance of the state of economics in the U.S.:

  • The gaps in income between upper and lower-income households continue to rise.
  • The richest 5% continue to get richer.
  • The wealth of American families is currently no higher than its level twenty years ago. 1
  • Approximately 5.4% of households were unbanked in 2019. 2


Dr. King’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Equality

Everyone remembers Dr. King for his “I Have A Dream” speech, locking in on his words that focus on civil rights, but the part so many turn a blind eye to, is the connection he draws between economic equality and the social agenda. In his speech, Dr. King said:

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land…. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check… that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. 

His words were not only a call for social justice but also a demand for economic justice: “lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.“ 


Dr. King emphasized the need for jobs, and equal and fair wages for all. By the time he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the rhetoric of economic struggle was already a common theme throughout his work and teachings. 


In an article published in Look Magazine, Dr. King wrote, “We call our demonstration a campaign for jobs and income because we feel that the economic question is the most crucial that black people and poor people generally are confronting.” 3


The economic problem remains a critical problem impacting many today.

MoCaFi’s Mission to Bridge the Wealth Gap 

Today, MoCaFi is addressing social inequities by closing the wealth gap. Founded on the premise that social justice without economic justice is like one-hand clapping, MoCaFi believes that providing access to affordable financial services and resources, financial education, and strategic partnerships to mobilize will help with addressing these long standing economic problems . 

“The social justice movement is incomplete without an economic justice component to address the inequities impacting communities of color.” –Wole Coaxum, MoCaFi Founder & CEO at the House Select Committee’s Roundtable Discussion on America’s Unbanked and Underbanked


Today, the fight continues; discrimination and inequality prevails in lack of opportunities, banking and lending practices, homeownership and housing, and income. That is why platforms and organizations willing to provide the access underserved communities need are essential. The call sent out by Dr. King, decades ago was heard and so we continue.


Suppose we get serious about addressing the wealth gap in this country, which touches families in

Appalachia as much as single mothers in Brooklyn, a disparity that impacts the wage worker in New

Orleans and the farmworkers in Tennessee. In that case, we must support the companies that are unafraid to work with these marginalized communities and who offer these citizens the financial tools to

experience the American dream. –Wole Coaxum


Progress has no end, it is ongoing. Although the landscape has shifted the direction – onward towards economic and social justice – has not. 


It’s all right to tell a man to lift themselves by their own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Closing the wealth gap looks like affordable financial services for all Americans, a blueprint to building wealth, infrastructure for cities to create an equitable government, and using partnership and various platforms to advocate for and develop policies that create transformative economic change for disenfranchised communities.