Press Release Economic Policy Inequality US

Measuring the Distance to Reach King’s Dream of Equal Opportunity


02/09/2022 3:38pm

Contact: KL Conner, 202-281-4159Mail_Outline

Washington, DC — Economic justice was a key component of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. In this analysis, CEPR’s Algernon Austin finds a useful measure of progress toward that goal in the Child Opportunity Index. “We are far from the society of equality of opportunity that King dreamed about,” says Austin.

The index ranks neighborhoods in 100 of the largest metropolitan areas by race, educational opportunities and resources, health and environmental conditions, and social and economic resources.  Nearly half of Black children are in “very low opportunity” neighborhoods.

“This is nowhere close to equal opportunity,” concludes Austin. “Yet, it is fortifying to contemplate King’s words of optimism, sacrifice, and morality when the United States is once again retreating from the path to racial and economic justice by blocking voting rights and preventing working people from realizing their desires to form unions.”

(Related reading: Economic hardship is one important factor driving gun violence. See Algernon Austin’s recent article, The Link Between Gun Violence and Economic Hardship in Black Communities.)

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