“There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we now have the resources to get rid of it. … Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know‐how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life? … There is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is in human will.”
Those words were spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. at the University of Oslo in 1964. Nearly 60 years later, the means of production and scientific know-how have only increased, but we’re no closer to solving this issue — if anything, the pandemic has only served to expose the dreadful situation experienced by society’s most vulnerable, including children.
Over in the United Kingdom, 23-year-old England and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford has echoed the sentiments of King while attempting to combat childhood hunger. His battle, which you would assume to be wildly bipartisan and universally acclaimed, has been effective, but also revealing of what King referred to as the deficit in human will.
Rashford wanted free school meals for poor children during school holidays, but he was greeted with a wild back and forth between the Labour and Tory parties, as well as being accused of “celebrity virtue-signaling” and being told that stuff like this is “not as simple as you make out Marcus.”
They were wrong.
The government made a U-turn on its initial decision and provided meals for students in need during the summer and then announced a £400 million holiday meal and activity program to support low-income families until the end of 2021.
Rashford used his own experience of growing up in Manchester, where his mom raised three boys and two girls, alone, while working three jobs, to build a social platform that created positive change and inspired countless others to join in.
“That’s the way change happens,” Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said. “When you get a sense the country is deciding something different to what everyone’s just voted for in parliament.”
In recognition of his efforts, the young Englishman graces the upcoming cover of TIME magazine, which focuses on “The Next 100 Most Influential People” in the world.
.@LewisHamilton on @MarcusRashford: "In a year that showed us the power of working together toward a common goal, he was a galvanizing force behind uniting people across the U.K. in the effort to ensure that no child goes hungry" #TIME100Next https://t.co/tyvAbete4G pic.twitter.com/uPQ1tKCZ4S— TIME (@TIME) February 17, 2021
“In a year that showed us the power of working together toward a common goal, he was a galvanizing force behind uniting people across the U.K. in the effort to ensure that no child goes hungry,” writes seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton in the editorial. “His determination, resilience and persistence have been truly inspiring. I cannot wait to see how he continues this important work.”