Celebrations will take place Monday throughout the Kansas City area with speeches and music to commemorate the national holiday for slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
“Investing in Our Community for Economic Justice” is the right theme for this year’s program sponsored by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City. As when King was alive and the civil rights movement marched through the streets of this nation, African-Americans still face a disproportionately high unemployment rate, segregated and deficient schools and a higher incarceration rate.
Voting rights for people of color also are under siege, despite efforts by King and others 50 years ago to get the Voting Rights Act signed into law. In addition, the deaths of unarmed black males and the protests that followed in 2014 show a continuing problem in police and black community relations.
The calm that King helped create and nonviolent action should dominate protests, and educators, government, civic and faith leaders need to listen.
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The country also needs to do whatever it takes to end racial disparities in education, hiring, housing and economic opportunity. Bridges have to be built and barriers broken to continue the work that King started for this community and the nation to move forward.