Young Leaders on a Mission to Continue Dr. King’s Legacy
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is upon us once more and people around the world will celebrate his enduring work and legacy. Most of us are fully aware of his struggle for civil rights by his efforts to transform U.S. domestic policy that perpetuated injustice and inequality. Many of us are less aware of his international advocacy, specifically as it relates to Africa. In fact, Dr. King was just as committed to raising awareness about injustices beyond our shores as in our homeland.
In December 1965, while speaking at Hunter College in New York City, Dr. King addressed apartheid in South Africa and the complex human rights issues facing people of African descent throughout the world. In this address he stated, “We are in an era in which the issue of human rights is the central question confronting all nations. In this complex struggle an obvious but little appreciated fact has gained attention — the large majority of the human race is non-white — yet it is that large majority which lives in hideous poverty. While millions enjoy an unexampled opulence in developed nations, ten thousand people die of hunger each and every day of the year in the undeveloped world.” Sadly, nearly 50 years later, such conditions still exist.
Dr. King’s work fully embraced the now famous mantra he coined in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Fortunately in 2012 we have seen a surge of young leaders who are following in the footsteps of Dr. King by fighting these injustices. Some are utilizing their voices as advocates for policy change while others have developed creative solutions to address poverty in distant lands.
Rev. Nicholas S. Richards is one such person. He is the co-founder and president of the Abyssinian Fund, an organization that works to reduce poverty in Ethiopia. Since its inception in 2009, The Abyssinian Fund partners with Ethiopian coffee farmers to help them learn more efficient methods of farming. The training the farmers receive promotes the production of higher quality coffee that they can sell at a premium rate. This effective system helps the farmers and communities improve their livelihood, ultimately leading to poverty reduction. There are also young leaders like Chad Martin based out of Martinsville, VA. As a graduate of Bread for the World’s first Hunger Justice Leaders class in 2008, Chad continues to organize his local community to take action on behalf of hungry and poor people through the power of their voice and pen.
Bread for the World is giving young leaders an opportunity to do the same at the biennial Hunger Justice Leaders event from June 9 to 12, 2012, in Washington, DC. Under the theme, “From the Pulpit to the Public Square,” 75 young ministers and religious leaders will explore the biblical foundations for advocacy, gain skills in community organizing, and connect with like-minded ministers from across the country. They’ll then have a chance to test their skills by advocating on behalf of hungry and poor people at Capitol Hill Lobby Day 2012. To find out how you can continue Dr. King’s legacy through anti-hunger advocacy, visit the Hunger Justice Leaders website and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.