Two Dr. Martin Luther King Lessons About Money

Posted by Nailah Herbert in Black EconomicsJanuary 13, 2023(Last Updated January 15, 2023)4 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought vigorously to give African-Americans equality regarding civil rights, education, politics, and economics.
  • Dr. King is a legendary figure in the world of civil rights.
  • Dr. King's acts of service were recognized by the federal government when former President Bill Clinton signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act on August 23, 1994. 
Are you ready to make some real money moves?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought vigorously to give African-Americans equality regarding civil rights, education, politics, and economics. Dr. King is a legendary figure in the world of civil rights and beyond.

History of Martin Luther King Jr.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights leader who actively fought the face of injustice and preached for people’s equality, regardless of the color of their skin. Dr. King is one of the most influential figures in the history of the civil rights movement. 


MLK Day 

Dr. King worked relentlessly to end racial segregation and unify the United States of America. His acts of service were recognized by the federal government when former President Bill Clinton signed the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act on August 23, 1994. 

This federal holiday, nationally known as MLK Day, allows all U.S. citizens to observe the community service work that Dr. King accomplished. Thus, Martin Luther King Day is observed every year on the third Monday of January. 

Peaceful Protests


Dr. King was a proponent of peaceful protests. He worked closely with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to coordinate efforts to register Black voters. Although their efforts were always thwarted, they refused to give up. Dr. King would eventually meet with former President Lyndon Johnson two days prior to the Selma March, known as ‘Bloody Sunday,’ to discuss voting rights legislation.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meeting with President Lyndon Johnson

Image Credit: White House Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meeting with US President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office of the White House on December 3, 1963, in 

Washington, DC.

The ‘Bloody Sunday’ march, led by John Lewis, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, is one widely known example of a peaceful protest that turned violent because of law enforcement members and state citizens who were ingrained with racist beliefs. Nonetheless, none of the protesters fought back against the brutal attacks, and Dr. King continued to advocate for nonviolent protests.


Equal Rights

Dr. King is remembered as one of the most influential figures in helping preach and attain equality for the African-American community. His “I Have a Dream” speech and presence in the Poor People’s Campaign were two of his many actions which helped minorities attain equal rights. 


Recommended Read: Equity vs. Equality, and Why African Americans Deserve Both

Freedom is Worth More Than Money

Although he is mainly known for his advancements in the civil rights movement, Dr. King also taught a great deal about finance. Here are two financial lessons from his public works.

"There is nothing in all the world greater than freedom. It is worth paying for; it is worth going to jail for. I would rather be a free pauper than a rich slave. I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in inordinate riches with the lack of self-respect." 

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

About 155 years ago, on December 18, 1865, the 13th Amendment officially abolished slavery however, the "free" status of African-Americans has since been violated or severely tested. 

The constant fight for freedom for Black people in America led to the civil rights movement in the 1960s, where Dr. King became a prominent figure in standing up for the rights of Black people. His efforts sparked political, social, and economic change among Black people.


Although Dr. King was assassinated at 39 years old, his legacy lives through the lives and hearts of many today. He taught us the value of freedom and the importance of fighting for equal opportunities. 

Financial Literacy Offers Financial Freedom 



Financial literacy causes financial freedom. The important time to start your financial journey is now. One of the first ways to achieve financial independence is by budgeting. Budgeting will give you an idea of your current financial situation and what specific changes need to be made to become more financially stable. 


Recommended Read: How to Create a Basic Budget in Three Simple Steps




Another important skill that encompasses financial literacy is how to save money efficiently. Throughout life, there will always be some event that will cause you to spend a large amount of money. Whether that is a medical emergency or putting a down payment on a house, it is important to have money set aside for these instances. Putting aside money each payday into a savings account will help you financially prepare for these events.


Recommended Read: Six Tips to Maximize a High-Yield Savings Account




Investing in the stock market and other financial instruments like real estate or bonds is one of the final lessons learned on the road to financial literacy. Financial investments carry risks, so it’s important to have proper due diligence. 


Recommended Read: Investing in Fine Art | Culture Meets Money with Okeeba Jubalo


The Money Wrap-Up

Dr. King is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures in the civil rights movement. His actions generations ago are still relevant today, Dr. King’s intelligence and willingness to create change are not limited to the civil rights era. Many people can take heed to the financial lessons Dr. King preached during his life. The more a person learns about financial literacy, the better their chances of them making educated money moves that will help improve their financial health and provide them with financial freedom.  

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