Joe McKenzie’s Personal Liberty Movement

My Personal Liberty Movement

By Joe McKenzie

In my recent trip to Atlanta for speaking engagements, I had the opportunity to visit The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”). As I made my way through the exhibits, I found myself reflecting while learning more about Martin Luther King Jr’s and his leadership in the civil rights movement. I walked away from the experience realizing how I was carrying out King’s dream by creating economic opportunity for others. In my recent trip to Atlanta for speaking engagements, I had the opportunity to visit The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”). As I made my way through the exhibits, I found myself reflecting while learning more about Martin Luther King Jr’s and his leadership in the civil rights movement. I walked away from the experience realizing how I was carrying out King’s dream by creating economic opportunity for others.

Working as a credit union professional about 10 years ago, I volunteered to speak at a weekly jobs in transition group. The group was comprised of individuals with both blue collar and professional backgrounds, including assembly line workers at the soon to be shuttered Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in St. Paul. Eventually, I transitioned to a new role as a job developer for a Minnesota nonprofit. After five years I had identified, nurtured and secured a group of employment partners who hired the agency’s clients with full time and permanent employment. With my business development activity, I directly impacted the careers of hundreds of people, providing new economic opportunities for new Americans, communities of color, military veterans, and persons with disabilities.

In my current role as co-host and career expert broadcasting on two radio stations in Minneapolis/St Paul market, I have the means to reach a large audience. I share job search resources and techniques. I essentially become the “eye and ears” for my listeners in regards to Minnesota’s job market. Recently, I volunteered to join the Board of Directors of an organization in my community whose mission involves repairing vehicles and giving away donated cars to lower income working families. My leadership helps to guide the organization and its mission of helping families to stay employed by having reliable transportation to work. Both of my roles, as radio co-host and as a board member, have the potential to bring improved economic self-sufficiency for many individuals in my community.

I have observed in many situations that family members, neighbors, fellow faith organization members – many people for one reason or another, feel they should not get involved and leave it up to someone other than themselves to secure a new job. I made a decision to take a more direct approach by becoming a resource to someone who is in career transition. I work to gain an understanding of that person’s career direction, share relevant insights and resources, and call on my professional network when applicable. I have observed in many situations that family members, neighbors, fellow faith organization members – many people for one reason or another, feel they should not get involved and leave it up to someone other than themselves to secure a new job. I made a decision to take a more direct approach by becoming a resource to someone who is in career transition. I work to gain an understanding of that person’s career direction, share relevant insights and resources, and call on my professional network when applicable.

Until I visited the King Center, I had not realized my own parallels to Martin Luther King Jr’s work to end economic inequality; I realize I have launched my own liberty movement through my work with individuals by helping them to secure employment and by focusing on economic self-sufficiency for all. Martin Luther King Jr’s planted the seeds for the fight for civil rights and economic equality many years ago, how have those seeds taken root within you?

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