In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famed “I Have A Dream” address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, to a crowd of over a 250,000 people during the historic March on Washington. He spoke passionately and eloquently not just of a more inclusive, deliberate society, but also of what he referred to as a “bank of justice;” a reservoir of societal goodwill and morality that was plentiful and would ensure “the riches of freedom and the security of justice” were available in full if, and when, communities demanding both decided to cash in.
This year’s MLK holiday reminds us that that eternal drumbeat for freedom and justice at the grassroots level has never been louder. Every four years in America, MLK Day is typically associated with a presidential inauguration, providing an appropriate reflection point. It’s a moment to take in all the progress we as Americans have made so far—whether it be on issues like clean energy and sustainability or empowering working communities to take back control of their own future--but to also take an honest accounting of the tremendous work still left to do.
Perhaps among Dr. King’s most lasting legacy items is the enduring nature of the vision he consistently shared with America. Specifically, that same bank of justice that Dr. King espoused still exists today and at Groundswell, in our own way, our recent leap of faith in community solar and its capacity to build community power is our deposit in it.
At Groundswell, we’ve always been committed to empowering communities to empower themselves. It’s what attracted me most—as a veteran of the social justice movement—to Groundswell’s work. We don’t just want to offer clean energy for clean energy’s sake; we want to improve our community’s health, stabilize their monthly bills, build community wealth, and lower energy costs for working families. Strikingly similar to the work I’ve personally engrossed myself in throughout my professional career, Groundswell’s motivation isn’t political or even ideological—it’s just about making people’s lives better and trying to foster an environment where everyone has an opportunity to control their community’s destiny. And we’re excited that our bet on community solar is going to make those goals real and achievable.
As we succeed, there’s no doubt in our minds that this is our small contribution to creating a more fair, just society—not unlike the dream Dr. King had for America 53 years ago. Through our equitable community solar projects we’re developing in partnership with the communities we serve, we’re not just seeking to provide affordable clean energy: we’re working to deliver on the promises of hope through empowerment.
If our theory of change is accurate—that real power rests in the collective energy and spirit of communities empowered to demand and create change—then we’re confident that when it is time for those communities to cash in at that bank of justice, those same “riches of freedom” and that same “security of justice” will be there, as plentiful and assured today as they were when Dr. King so famously opened an account for us there back in 1964.