On Martin Luther King Jr. Day we celebrate the legacy of a human being dedicated to racial justice and equal rights for all. Dr. King envisioned a world without racism and bigotry, in which peace and tolerance rule. The current landscape of money in politics in America reminds us that Dr. King’s fight for justice is still ongoing.

The concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a few stands in opposition to the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision. Our campaign finance system represents a barrier of political and economic entry for those who are not of a wealthy donor class. And, since the wealthiest Americans are predominantly white, such an exclusionary system has a disproportionate impact on people of color and their ability to meaningfully participate in a political process dominated by big money interests.  It also follows that the system has a disproportionate impact on the ability of people of color to influence policy decisions that directly affect them. Concentrated money in politics makes it more difficult for people of color and those from marginalized groups to gain political office, contributing to a political system that does not reflect the diversity of our nation. These barriers of access perpetuate a system of economic and social inequality in our country.

Free Speech For People recognizes the intersection of money in politics with the lives of marginalized individuals, including people of color, the queer and trans community, women, and low income folks. Through events such as Queer+Trans Concerns Around Democracy, Money & Politics held in April 2017, and the development of guides and frameworks, we and our allies are helping to reposition the voices of those most affected by our current system at the center of the conversation. In addition, Free Speech For People was honored to be part of the forum, Money in Politics as a Civil Rights Issue, held in Durham, NC in October 2015, which sought to highlight political equality and civil rights. Through a combination of community strategies and solutions, and a Constitutional amendment that overturns the damaging Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United v. FEC, and McCutheon v. FEC rulings, we can begin to achieve true political equality for all and honor Dr. King’s vision for a just future.