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MLK Event Looks at Economic Roots of Injustice

Economic injustice is the focus of a Martin Luther King, Jr. forum cosponsored by American Friends Service Committee. (dandipuffs/
Economic injustice is the focus of a Martin Luther King, Jr. forum cosponsored by American Friends Service Committee. (dandipuffs/
January 18, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As people across Missouri and the nation honor the work and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., an event today offers the chance to delve deeper into his teachings and how they relate to the way money is spent at the local, state and federal levels.

Ira Harritt, program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, says it's important to remember that King's message is not just about people of different races and backgrounds living together peacefully.

"Looking at the systems that create economic and racial injustice in our society, systems of violence that exist in our communities, and ways that we can work to change those systems," he points out.

Harritt will be one of the speakers at a forum called Moving the Money: Concrete Steps For Economic Justice For All People, which will take place today at 3:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City.

Harritt says the forum is in part a by-product of the American Friends Service Committee's Listening Project, a large-scale survey of community leaders from different sectors such as education, housing and health care, to discuss the impact that decades of budget cutting has had on the work they do.

"We found that many of these systems of injustice were revealed, and that they were very interconnected,” he states. “So things like low and unlivable wages, the deficient educational system, social determinants of health that produce illness instead of health."

For example, Harritt says there is a 13-year difference in life expectancy based on zip codes in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

He stresses looking at those issues helps challenge the dominant narrative of blaming the poor for their problems, and puts the focus on the systems that keep them mired in poverty.

More information on the event is at

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO