MEMPHIS, Tenn. — April 4th, 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.
Dr. King spoke frequently about the need for social change and economic equality.
King's message has resonated with a Memphis attorney who is taking his own message of economic empowerment to the streets.
"We're viewed largely as consumers and that's all. "
Ricky Wilkins is a well known Memphis attorney and founder of MEMPOWER.
Wilkins describes MEMPOWER as a "think tank" addressing economic and political empowerment within the African American community.
"We've got to be smart about how we spend our money in this community. And we've got to be smart about how we involve ourselves in the political fabric of the community," said Ricky Wilkins, Attorney and Founder of MEMPOWER .
Wilkins has taken his MEMPOWER message to the streets, pointing out what he calls a big "disparity" in business growth and success among African Americans in Memphis.
"The African American business community receives less than one percent of business receipts in the total community...less than one percent. Even though we are the majority in the population," said Ricky Wilkins, Attorney and Founder of MEMPOWER .
"There is a space and place for your involvement and participation... "
Wilkins hopes to engage more of Memphis' younger generation with his MEMPOWER message.
Dominique Worthen is a graduate of LeMoyne Owen College, having moved to Memphis from Michigan.
The 25-year-old admits he never gave much thought to the "state of black owned" businesses till he moved to Memphis.
"It's a conversation I have with colleagues all the time, 'where are the black-owned businesses at?' And it's always singular when we do have one. Where are the "chains" at? What are we known for owning? I want to know that," said Dominique Worthen, LeMoyne Owen graduate.
Ricky Wilkins said he's also disappointed with the African American community in Memphis for not supporting minority-owned businesses.
"The African American community will either be the City's greatest asset...or its greatest liability. And it's our decision to decide which it will be," said Ricky Wilkins, Attorney and Founder of MEMPOWER .
And he said it's important to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior came to Memphis nearly 50 years ago to stand by striking sanitation workers in their quest for economic justice...
...a crusade that ended with King's assassination on April 4th, 1968.
"So when we sit here today, almost 50 years later, the issue of economic justice remains as powerful and potent and problematic today as it was then. That's a sad reality," said
You can find out more about MEMPOWER by contacting Ricky Wilkins at 901-322-4450.