MLK's "Poor People's Campaign" Still Relevant in 2013

MLK's "Poor People's Campaign" Still Relevant in 2013

Local civil rights activists agree poverty is still a major problem, but say Memphis' solution doesn't rest with Washington, but with local churches.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Right before his death, Martin Luther King, Jr. was in the midst of planning the Poor People's Campaign. The intent was to petition the President and congress to help the poor get jobs, health care and decent homes.

It's a mission Dr. King's daughter Bernice believes is still relevant today. She wants it to be one of the President's top priorities the next four years.

Local civil rights activists agree poverty is still a major problem, but say Memphis' solution doesn't rest with Washington, but here.

"Right before he was assassinated, he was in Memphis, Tennessee," Bernice King says. "He was in the midst of planning this Poor Peoples' Campaign, and I'd like to see more emphasis placed on poverty in our nation."

"I agree with Dr. King's daughter," say Reverend Dwight Montgomery, President of Memphis' Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Montgomery believes the brunt of the burden lies not on the President or with government, but the church.

"The government, wherever possible should do more, but the church can do more," he tells abc24.com.

Montgomery says there are enough churches in Memphis, if they all worked together, they could create a noticeable impact.

"With the kinds of monies that come into the churches throughout this community - we have over two thousand churches - we certainly have enough resources."

Until now, he says poverty hasn't been a big focus. "A lot of times persons help their own members, but you've got to help their neighbors."

"When I look at the Bible at the book of Acts, it wasn't the government helping the people, it was the church."

Reverend Montgomery says education is the best way to prevent poverty. His church has a special program mentoring and tutoring kids to make sure they do well in school and to try to break the cycle of poverty.
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