It is not a coincidence to me that King was shot right when he was campaigning with the Poor People’s Campaign. As I look into the Memphis Sanitation strike he was campaigning for, I am not surprised that this is when evil ended his life. “Money is the root of all evil” and I think evil people and demonic forces took him out right when he was getting to the heart of American greed. Yes, America agreed to give Black the legal right to vote, but I don’t believe they have ever been given economic equality of any kind simply because money makes money and Black Americans have never had access to real capital, and forces within our nation have kept it so.
I can’t urge you enough to read “The Color Of Money” specifically the chapter “Civil Rights Dream, Economic Nightmares.” Badaran explains how after the passing of the Civil Rights 1964 and the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 blacks were still unemployed at twice the rates of whites, they occupied low wage jobs, had little wealth and these “momentous laws provided no conceivable path out of poverty. Abolishing racist laws was it the same thing as achieving equality. Ending segregation was not the same thing as integration. Ending job discrimination was not the same thing as having jobs. Ending credit discrimination was not the same thing as providing credit.” I believe in Dr Kings proposal in 1963 that “just as we granted a GI Bill of Rights to war veterans we should launch a broad-based and gigantic Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged. For it is obvious that if a man is entering the starting line in a race three hundred years after a man, the first would have to perform some impossible feat in order to catch up with his former runner.” These are the quotes White America doesn’t put on Social Media on Dr MLK Day because White Americans then feel “blacks are given special favors based on race” In 1966, a poll went out and the majority of White Americans felt their money was threatened by Kings new demands and the demands of the civil rights movement. 85% of whites believed that “the pace of civil progress was too fast.”
King states in the late 60s, “the inseparable twin of racial justice is economic justice.” However the second twin is much harder to achieve because it would require Black access to capitol, reparations and radical change that White America has never agreed to. In 1965 at Ebenezer Baptist Church King said, “My dream had become a nightmare. I’ve seen it shattered… I continue to see it shattered as I walk through the Harlems of our nation and see sometimes ten and fifteen Negroes trying to live in one or two bedrooms… I’ve seen my dream shattered as I met hundreds of people who didn’t earn more than six or seven hundred dollars a week. I’ve seen my dream shattered as I’ve walked the streets of Chicago and seen Negroes… with a sense of utter hopelessness because they can’t find jobs.” Right after the Civil rights movement, half of black children lived in poverty.
I am largely paraphrasing Mehrsa Baradaran above and quoting her here, “Just as King’s coalition had protested Jim Crow’s buses in Birmingham, in Harlem and Chicago and other black ghettos across the county, residents were protesting Jim Crow Credit markets. As credit became a ubiquitous feature of American life, neither credit cards nor mortgage credit had crossed the credit line. Almost every large purchase was paid for with high-cost installment credit… black families across all income levels had more installment debt than whites. Installment credit added high debt loads to those living on the economic margins, and this it was debt that turned the ghetto into a pressure cooker. The money pit economy of the ghetto meant that black consumers paid much more for everything that those living just across the color line… Another 1968 study conducted by the FTC reported that 93 percent of sales in the ghetto were on installment, compared with only 27 percent in white suburbia… The disturbing price of credit had to do with the economic trap of the ghetto, which led to a constrained credit market. Due to the triple forces of racism, poverty, and segregation, ghetto residents were not offered credit cards or consumer loans from banks.”
If you look into the Senate hearings of Senator Proxmire during that time period, the senators converged on a diagnosis at the time that “the problems as one of the white institutions exploiting the black ghetto.” Senator Proxmire goals of small credit loans to Black businesses failed in 1968. For white America, credit unions had created the middle class through ” federally subsidized mortgage loans.” However, this was never offered, nor was most of the New Deal benefits, to black concentrated poverty and thus the vicious cycle has never been broken. As Badaran describes, “Racism was the root cause of the problem, but it was the segregated and undercapitalized ghetto that was responsible for much of the disparity. Unable and unwilling to eliminate the ghetto credit market in its entirety legislators focused exclusively on discrimination in credit applications. But mandating nondiscrimination would not change the fundamental ghetto economy. Lenders soon found another fairly obvious way to avoid lending to black after these laws were imposed – they used zip codes as a proxy for race. Zip codes were perfect indicators of a community’s racial and economic makeup because segregation had almost perfectly correlated geography and race… in 1952, West Germany agreed to pay the new nation of Israel three billion marks over the next fourteen years as reparations for the atrocities of the Holocaust. But the US, at least under Johnson’s administration, never conceptualized the remedy for past wrongs in this way… The War on Poverty eventually ran up against a torrent of protest and accusations of favorable treatment, and its “handouts” quickly became a target of conservative scorn. Not only did these programs not actually alleviate black poverty, but they have since been maligned by conservatives as the cause of black poverty. But they could have hardly caused anything, as they were largely abandoned shortly after they began. The money, energy, and political capital that Johnson was to use in the proverbial War on Poverty were quickly diverted into the actual war on Vietnam…. In 1967, King lamented that the War on Poverty had been “broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war (Baradaran 150-154).”