Dr. King's Legacy is Shamed 1

Dr. King’s Legacy is Shamed

Dr. King’s Legacy is Shamed

Dr. King's Legacy is Shamed 2

I could not sleep the last few nights. Now that the MLK holiday is over I could not stop thinking about how over the years so many organizations, politicians and systems have been “Pimping” Kings’ legacy. I am emotional about it but I know Dr. King must be turning over in his grave. We have desecrated his name by allowing others to steal his purpose and compromise his mission. You have to ask yourself, would Dr. King be satisfied or approving of what we have accomplished since his death? I think not.

In Portland, we have an opportunity to realize part of Kings’ vision. But our leaders are still tinkering and sputtering and spouting empty plateaus even when the economic equity path forward is plain as day.

I wrote this about Dr. Kings’ holiday, hoping some local media outlets would print it. The Oregonian printed a short revised version which I appreciated but you need the full context. I would recommend all who see substance in this post would contact your local politicians and tell them to let us cash this check:

Portland Desperately Needs a Leader on the Rose Quarter Project

By: James Posey

Nothing is rosy in the City of Roses. Our house is on fire and our commissioners are nowhere to be found, nor have we heard of a plan to boost jobs and economic security in Portland.

Where’s the leadership from our government officials?

We are at a historic moment to capitalize on the largest federal infrastructure investment in our nation’s history, yet City of Portland bureaus have been told to withhold permit applications on the I-5 Rose Quarter Improvement Project.

Contractors of color throughout the city have much to gain from the project, small business owners who have never worked on a government project will have a shot to grow their business qualifications, increase capacity, and create better-paying jobs right here in urban Portland, the historical core of the black community.

We need our governments as well as private industry to take responsibility by putting their money where their mouths are and uplifting our community with the opportunities, skill-building, and dollars that help to create and sustain intergenerational wealth.

Puttering is on the ballot this year, and it’s not a winning strategy. Those who talk intergenerational wealth and sleep while implementation opportunities languish should know they will be held accountable.

The Call

Leadership is admired by many, yet few actually live up to its status. Leadership is more than speaking up for a quick sound bite or news clip.

Leadership is taking a chance and trusting your intuition. Doing what’s right, not popular.

Where are the leaders in this town?

Mayor Wheeler, Portland commissioners, METRO, Multnomah County, we need you back at the table.

Governments officials from Oregon all the way to Washington DC have been peppered in words like “restorative justice” and “racial equity” when promoting infrastructure packages.

But what impacts do these words really mean for Black families in our region who have been locked out of economic opportunities for generations?

To the young climate activists, I hear you loud and clear, but you are reaping the benefits of generational privilege. Black people are disproportionately unemployed and struggling to make ends meet since the start of the COVID pandemic.

The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is alive and well.

Never has a project of this magnitude, overseen by ODOT, had a workforce advocate tasked with proactively identifying, recruiting, and helping place formerly incarcerated individuals and people of color with employers actively hiring. We found this innovative opportunity, on this project, with this contractor (Hamilton Sundt, in association with Raimore Construction). This aspect alone will prove the most meaningful in fulfilling the long-held promise of equal opportunity for living wage jobs.

In fact, 90 homicides, many young Black and Brown men and women, were reported in 2021 in Portland, a new high overshadowing the 70 homicides in 1987. I argue that this is also a real climate issue.

Ultimately what our children need right now are jobs, hope, and opportunities.

In his last speech before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left us with these parting words, “But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

The Rose Quarter Project is one of those checks, and it’s time to cash it.

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