Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a Monday speech marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day that the U.S. economy "has never worked fairly for Black Americans — or, really, for any American of color," reports The Associated Press.
Referencing a portion of King's "I Have a Dream" speech that said "America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned," Yellen said King "knew it was a more than a metaphor." King "knew that economic injustice was bound up in the larger injustice he fought against," she continued. "From Reconstruction, to Jim Crow, to the present day, our economy has never worked fairly" for people of color.
"There is still much more work Treasury needs to do to narrow the racial wealth divide," she said, though she argued the Biden administration's economic policies, like the American Rescue Plan, are meant to improve equity.
Yellen's speech was one of many on what would have been King's 93rd birthday. Members of King's family marched to advocate for voting rights legislation, writes The Washington Post, and King's granddaughter Yolanda Renee King urged people: "instead of idolizing my grandfather ... do something to help the community," per NBC News.
President Biden, meanwhile, echoed both Yolanda King and Yellen's sentiments, saying "it's not just enough to praise [King]: We must commit to his unfinished work, to deliver jobs and justice, to protect the sacred right to vote."