In his iconic speech at the 1963 March on Washington, Martin Luther King urged solidarity and perseverance in the fight for equality: “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.” Despite the inspiration in his words, we can’t forget that King was assassinated for speaking them and for working against injustice. For those of us in the anti-hunger movement, as we honor his birthday this week, we must remember that King’s indictment of racism and white supremacy in the United States named poverty, hunger, and injustice among its victims.
If we want to eradicate hunger, then we must heed the call to topple racism. If we want to heed the call for solidarity, then we must walk alongside the people and organizations fighting to realize King’s vision of a loving and just nation. The attack on our democracy in the U.S. Capitol earlier this month is a call to action around a common foe and towards a common goal. We must speak out against the anti-democratic forces threatening our nation and unite around the goal of an inclusive democracy, whose benefits–opportunity, freedom, and prosperity–are accessible in equal measure to all.
At the same time, we want to acknowledge that while the attack on our democracy affects all of us, it does not affect all of us the same. The anti-democratic violence and insurrection that took place at our Capitol on January 6 was fueled by hate and carried out against a backdrop teeming with symbols of racism and white nationalism, reflecting the long and painful history of injustice in our country. These events, and the continued threats of violence and racist rhetoric across the country are without a doubt painful and frightening for all of us, staff and the people we serve, particularly those of us who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
In his call to end poverty, King singled out the most important factor: Do we have the will? Hunger in America exists not due to a lack of food, but a lack of political will, or in the words of anti-hunger activist Frances Moore Lappé, a “scarcity of democracy.” In Texas, one in seven households (a rate that has doubled during the pandemic) experiences food insecurity despite a food system that generates a reliable and inexpensive surplus. The absence of food on a Texan’s dinner table is not a symptom of drought or famine, but of their own exclusion from the tables where their communities are grown, rights are negotiated, and institutions are built. We believe that bringing more Texans to the table will unlock the political will to end hunger.
In the coming year, we will work with our partners and supporters to nourish and build resilient communities. We will center the people experiencing hunger, racism, injustice, and poverty in our advocacy to advance anti-hunger policy and systems change. We will organize within our communities to increase opportunities for and engagement in the civic processes that are the foundation of an inclusive democracy.
Although immediate hunger relief will always be the primary focus of the Feeding Texas network, we are committed to addressing the root causes of hunger while continuing to ensure access to food for people experiencing hunger.
The march for justice continues, but we do not walk alone. We are nourished by the support of our communities and grateful to everyone who stands with us in the fight to end hunger. We are excited to work with you to build an inclusive democracy with and for every Texan.