Commentary: Operation Hope Keeps King's Legacy Alive

Jan 19, 2016

Martin Luther King Jr. had a three-pronged mission: eliminate racism, violence and poverty.

Andrew Young, one of his lieutenants, said King did not live long enough to fully develop his anti-poverty campaign.

But charismatic leader, John Hope Bryant, has taken up that part of King's mantle.  He wants to transform civil rights to silver rights - the right for people to have access to financial opportunity.

Bryant founded Atlanta-based Operation Hope.  Its annual global summit attracts some of the world's top business and government leaders to explore how to eliminate poverty.

He has developed relationships with top banks in the country, who have committed millions to improve financial literacy for the poor.

And Bryant talked about fighting poverty at this year's 2016 Global Summit with influential speakers like Chelsea Clinton, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.

Just a week earlier, Bryant and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young joined Lew in Washington D.C. to rename the U.S. Treasury Annex building into the Freedman's Bank Building - at the urging of Operation Hope.

Freedman's Bank was created by President Abraham Lincoln to teach newly-freed slaves about money. The annex had been built 100 years ago on the site of the original Freedman's Bank.

"We are trying to make every bank in America a Freedman's Bank," Bryant said. The goal is to help the poor better understand how to manage their money so they can emerge from poverty."

For Bryant, Operation Hope is a way to keep King's legacy alive and to help narrow the gap of income inequality.

Maria Saporta is editor of SaportaReport.