Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) is one of the most iconic activist in history. But did you know MLK’s civil rights movement contained a financial agenda that’s manifesting itself today?

I’ve Been to the Mountain

In his speech I’ve Been to the Mountaintop MLK reminds listeners that they have collective power. As he put it “individually we are poor when you compare us with white society in America…but collectively we are richer than most nations of the world”. He encouraged listeners to use this power by ‘withdrawing economic support’ from companies that engage in unfair treatment towards black people. In layman’s terms STOP spending your money at companies that do not respect you as a person or group.

MLK went on to name a few companies that he believed should be boycotted (at that time due to their hiring policies) and advocated for a greater support for black institutions. His proposed “bank-in” and “insurance-in” were agendas that called for listeners to redistribute their wealth into black-owned banks and insurance companies which would not only ‘begin the process of building a greater economic base’ while putting pressure on other companies/industries.

New Mountain Views

This ideology appears to be gaining momentum today as the #bankblack movement has gained attention in recent years and consumers are quickly advocating outrage and boycotts towards companies running offensive ad campaigns depicting people of color (such as 2017 Dove campaign and this year’s H&M fiasco). But let’s make one thing clear…

It’s all about respect.

We live in a diverse economy with an equally diverse workforce. Companies should naturally cater to the uniqueness of its clientele by avoiding ads, movies, language, etc. that blatantly disrespect consumers. However, as consumers we also need to realize that we do not need to support businesses that disrespect us. For example, the #metoo movement led to an entire reshoot of a completed movie just to avoid any potential backlash as one of the former stars was accused of sexual assault.

Use your Financial Power

This #MLKDay make a conscience effort to evaluate the businesses you choose to financial support and ask yourself do they treat people fairly. If they don’t why do you continue to support them? Collectively we have financial power. Let’s use it to better the world.

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