Dr. King’s Legacy and How it Relates to Financial Equity & Economic Justice

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A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look at thousands of working people displaced from their jobs with reduced incomes as a result of automation while the profits of the employers remain intact, and say: ‘This is not just.’”

― Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

Recently, one of my sales colleagues invited me to her presentation regarding the importance of financial literacy and wellness within our current economic climate and society at large. Although it was a veritable sales training, her performance struck a chord and three statistics really shone through for me:

  • Sixty-three percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck — including nearly half of six-figure earners

  • Of those earning more than six figures, 49% reported living paycheck to paycheck, a jump from the previous year’s 38%

  • Nearly four in five (79%) working Americans believe employers should be more aware of their employees’ financial struggles

Furthermore, she illustrated The White House’s definition of “underserved communities” which “refers to populations sharing a particular characteristic, as well as geographic communities, that have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social and civic life, as exemplified by the list in the preceding definition of “equity.”

Suffice to say, there are a lot more folks that are “underserved” than are causally defined as such.

Overall, a fascinating perspective albeit not specifically breaking news to everyone.

For some personal context, before I came to DailyPay I worked for Paychex selling 401(k) plans to small businesses. The position coalesced with my personal mission of advancing generational wealth, in this case, by supporting one’s own retirement versus being taken care of by others and taxing their wealth development. Admittedly and for over a decade, I ran way too many enrollment meetings where people were thinking about today’s bills and not tomorrow’s savings. The reality was that a 401(k) was neither the benefit that would help them at the moment nor the benefit that would endear them to that specific employer.

If you’re still reading, you might be thinking “What does any of this have to do with Dr. Martin Luther King?”

One aspect of Dr. King’s legacy that is particularly relevant to financial equity is his focus on economic justice. In his 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” Dr. King wrote about the importance of addressing poverty and inequality in order to create a truly just society. He argued that it was not enough to simply end legal segregation; instead, it was necessary to address the economic conditions that kept many African Americans trapped in poverty.

Dr. King’s ideas about economic justice are just as relevant today as they were in the 1960s. Despite significant Civil Rights progress, many African Americans and other underserved groups continue to struggle with financial insecurity and inequality. The racial wealth gap, which refers to the fact that, on average, African American households have significantly less wealth than white households, continues to be a major systemic issue in the United States. Topically, the detriment to the wealth cycle continues with Gen Z and Millennials as they enter the workforce.

One way that Dr. King’s legacy relates to financial equity is through the concept of financial empowerment; the idea that people should have the skills, knowledge and resources they need to make informed financial decisions and to build wealth.

In addition to financial equity is the concept of “financial inclusion.” Financial inclusion refers to the idea that everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity or income level, should have access to basic financial services such as bank accounts, credit and financial literacy resources. This includes programs that help individuals and families open bank accounts and access credit, as well as efforts to provide ongoing financial education and coaching to move them toward financial stability and generational wealth.

Dr. King understood that rectifying economic injustice was not just about access to jobs or income, but also about access to the tools and resources that are necessary for financial success.

Dr. King’s focus on financial empowerment and inclusion continues to inspire efforts to create a more financially equitable society for all. His work and his message continue to be a beacon of hope, guiding us as we move forward and strive to create a more just, equal and prosperous society for all.

During the interview process for DailyPay, I quickly realized what I was stepping into. I now proudly work for a company that initiates the financial stability and wealth-building journey at the beginning of an underserved employee’s financial wellness journey. There is still much work to be done to eliminate our systemic issues, but I believe that DailyPay is bringing us closer to a solution for the financial equity, inclusion and economic justice issues Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to.

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