By Dexter Hall
Black History Month has always given me a reason to pause and “Sankofa.” Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. Its literal translation means to “move forward while looking backward.”
As I Sankofa, I look back at January and the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s., birthday. While we remember the “I Have a Dream Speech” during the march on Washington, I have been drawn to a different look back as I move forward.
During the last 11 months of Dr. King’s life, his focus shifted somewhat from the hard battles in the fight for integration and the freedoms for Black citizens as guaranteed under the constitution and to the even harder fight — economics. Dr. King seemingly recognized and stated, “Genuine equality means economic equality.”
During the last 54 years there have been significant gains – Black citizens completing high school in 1964 was at 25.7% and in 2018 had risen to 87.8%. The number of Black college students in 1964 was 306,000, compared to 3 million in 2018.
These represent tremendous gains; however, they pale in significance to the lack of economic gains and the placement of boots on every Black citizen so that everyone has the equal opportunity to pull themselves up by their “bootstraps.”
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, in his book, How to Be An AntiRacist, states, “Definitions anchor us in principles. This is not a light point: If we do not do the basic work of defining the kind of people, we want to be in language that is stable and consistent, we cannot work towards stable, consistent goals.”
Our work toward the common good of all Wacoans in ensuring their economic success for themselves and their families will continue to lead to unparalleled growth for all our communities.
Dr. King stated in his speech in 1967, “Where do we go from here,” that, “There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it.…Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? …There is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is in human will.…The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty.”
Together, we can find the will to make positive change.
Join us in the work for economic equality for all Wacoans through volunteerism and sharing of resources to be the change we are looking for. To be a part of the change reach out to us at Dexter@prosperwaco.org.
Dexter Hall is chief of staff & senior content specialist for financial security with Prosper Waco.