“Andrew’s commitment to a basic income is why I’m endorsing him, and why we’ve worked tirelessly to support Democrats across the country,” says King III.
By: Jason Lemon
The son of legendary Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. endorsed New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang on Monday, coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Martin Luther King III shared his endorsement in a video message posted online by Yang, a former Democratic presidential hopeful and New York City-based businessman. King III highlighted his father’s calls for universal basic income—a signature policy position Yang has popularized—in his endorsement of the mayoral candidate.
Describing Yang as “my friend,” King III said he would serve as co-chair of the mayoral hopeful’s New York City campaign.
“Endorsing Andrew has special meaning for me this weekend,” he said. “This weekend our nation is celebrating my dad, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I don’t have to tell you how much he advanced racial and economic justice in this country.”
“One of my main policy goals, and one of his dreams, was to establish a basic income for all Americans,” King III continued. “Andrew’s commitment to a basic income is why I’m endorsing him, and why we’ve worked tirelessly to support Democrats across the country.”
In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Yang welcomed the endorsement.
“I am honored to have the support of my friend, Martin Luther King III, one of America’s longest standing advocates for justice and equality. Today, we honor Martin’s father, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the historic work he did to create a more equal America,” he said. Yang continued, saying that he is “deeply proud to carry on Dr. King’s vision for a basic income, and with his son standing beside me in this fight, I know we’ll make it a reality.”
Yang popularized the idea of a universal basic income, putting forward the idea of providing all Americans with $1,000 per month during his unsuccessful presidential campaign. He referred to the payment as a “freedom dividend,” and drew significant support from a group of enthusiastic supporters dubbed the “Yang Gang.”
However, Yang failed to garner any significant support from Democratic caucus goers in Iowa or primary voters in New Hampshire, leading him to suspend his campaign in early February of last year. He later endorsed President-elect Joe Biden following Super Tuesday in March. Yang went on to throw his efforts into campaigning for Biden and other Democratic candidates across the country.
As King III emphasized, his father had advocated for a form of universal basic income to address economic and racial inequality.
“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 matter: the guaranteed income,” King Jr. wrote in his 1967 book “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community?”
King Jr. was assassinated the next year, on April 4, 1968.
Yang officially announced his campaign to become New York City’s next mayor last Thursday, although he had already been widely rumored to be exploring a run.
“The fears for our future that caused me to run for president have accelerated since this pandemic started,” he told a small crowd of supporters in Manhattan last week. “We need to make New York City the COVID comeback city, but also the anti-poverty city.”
There are now about a dozen candidates seeking to be America’s largest metropolis’ next mayor. They include a Wall Street executive, current and former city officials and a former member of former President Barack Obama‘s Cabinet. The Democratic and Republican primaries for the election will be held on June 22 and the general election will be on November 2.
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