Burian Lecture Series
March 25, 2014

In one of the last sermons he preached, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. promised to lead a poor people’s campaign to force the nation to take action regarding the persistence of poverty and "to help bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots."

That was 46 years ago, when there were roughly 40 million Americans living in poverty. Today there are roughly 50 million. In Kalamazoo County, poverty increased to 38.8 percent in 2010 from 24.3 percent in 1999, and an estimated 20.5 percent of Kalamazoo County residents, including 26.7 percent of the children in the county, lived below the poverty level. (source

Those are grim statistics, and that is why the University-Community Empowerment Center in the Western Michigan University College of Health and Human Services is taking steps to deal with poverty head on. The five A Call to Action: Poverty Reduction in Kalamazoo County forums and this Bill Burian University-Community Lecture are among the first of what will be many steps in helping to "bridge the gulf between the haves and the have-nots" to help make Dr. King’s dream a reality.