In celebration of Martin Luther King Day, our community partner, Bernie Mazyck of SCACDC, shared a message about our role as community development leaders in ensuring economic prosperity for all.  Below is his message.

Greetings Community Development Leaders in South Carolina,

Today we celebrate the federal holiday honoring the renowned civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This day gives us the opportunity to pause and celebrate the advancements in civil rights, economic development, and human rights that have been made in our country over the past 50 years. And we, as community development leaders, are largely the inheritors of the legacy and leadership left by Dr. King especially his goal for achieving economic parity for minorities and the poor towards the end of his life. In 1963, Dr. King was one of the driving forces behind the March for Jobs and Freedom, more commonly known as the “March on Washington,” which drew over a quarter-million people to the national mall. It was at this march that Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which cemented his status as a social change leader and helped inspire the nation to act on civil rights. And in 1968, it was garbage workers in Memphis, Tennessee who were striking for equal and better pay that brought Dr. King to Memphis where he was assassinated. Despite his ultimate sacrifice for racial and economic justice, for millions, the “Dream” is still illusive.

In South Carolina, you are the drum majors for justice in this age. Over the past 20 years, you have built a foundation for economic prosperity for the poor in South Carolina. You have developed a network of grassroots leaders and organizations, successfully advocated for public policies, created projects, and attracted capital to advance economic justice for all of South Carolina’s residents. Some estimates show an economic impact of over $200 million and over 5,000 jobs being created or preserved in some of the state’s most rural and economically challenging communities. For all that you do, I thank you and encourage you to continue the historic work that you have embarked upon. Now your efforts may not get the headlines of the local or state newspapers, and make it on the national news. But your work makes the biggest difference where it matters…changing the lives and giving hope to individuals and families in South Carolina’s communities.

On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I ask you to reflect upon the contributions you are making to advance the vision that Dr. King had for the “Beloved Community” of opportunity and equality. I encourage you to embrace this role of leadership and celebrate the work and the accomplishments you have made in your respective disciplines. But please keep in mind, we have a long way to go in South Carolina for full economic equity in our state. With your help, South Carolinians will live up to their full potential for greatness.

Best regards,

Bernie Mazyck
President and CEO
S.C. Association of CDCs