In Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” the civil rights leader discussed how to best address poverty in the United States.
“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income,” he wrote.
King was not the first to propose a guaranteed income; political philosophers from Montesque to Thomas Paine also penned their support for what is often referred to as “universal basic income.” And the idea was recently re-popularized by former Democratic presidential candidate and current New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.
However, King stands out as the most visible influence on Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a coalition of 30 mayors from Texas to Minnesota, who support direct, recurring cash payments for citizensand are starting guaranteed income programs of their own.The organization prominently features King’s words on its website, describing its mission as “rooted” in the civil rights leader’s legacy.
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, sometimes called “MGI,” was founded by Michael D. Tubbs, then-mayor of Stockton, California in June 2020 after his city launched, and later extended, a basic income program where 125 residents received $500 monthly thanks to funding from the Economic Security Project, a nonprofit that supports other guaranteed income experiments.
CNBC Make It recently spoke with mayors who are pushing the guaranteed income movement forward in their cities — and giving out thousands of dollars in the process.