Since the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., our country has made significant progress, but in other ways, there’s still a considerable gap, leading to “communication espionage” among disadvantaged residents in the digital age, said William Diggs, who delivered this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lecture at the Akron-Summit County Public Library.
As part of the Alliance for Digital Equality, Diggs helped give away 1,000 computers in Miami, and when they checked back later, more than 300 of these residents were not connected to the Internet. Diggs said they tried to help the residents with WiFi access, but many of these residents did not have the digital literacy to even operate an e-mail account.
“We’ve got a whole underdeveloped country that exists within the United States that still needs our help,” said Diggs, president of The Mourning Family Foundation, a conglomerate of nonprofits and for-profit companies owned by Alonzo and Tracy Mourning that assists children in need across the world.
In other ways, though, King would surely be proud, especially as it pertains to black entrepreneurs, like NBA star Dwyane Wade, who’s the manufacturer of a tennis shoe, from the ground up. Additionally, NBA athlete LeBron James has invested in a soccer team.
Black entrepreneurs are creating their own brands throughout the United States, said Diggs. “When we think of King’s economic agenda, it wasn’t just a southern agenda.”
He said he recalls two Martin luther Kings: one is a person who forever changed the way white people look at black people. “The other is his mission around economic empowerment,” he said. “Building an economic agenda within a civil rights struggle, was not only the perfect thing to do, but it happened at the right time.”
Is King’s vision still relevant? “How can it not be?” Diggs answers.
The MLK Lecture is an annual tradition at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. Diggs previously served as the Chief Executive Officer for The Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce from 2005 until August 2013. The 500-plus member Miami Dade Chamber of Commerce is Florida’s oldest Chamber of Commerce.
For more information, visit www.akronlibrary.org.