King’s last great crusade, a war on poverty, on display at Oklahoma City job fair

OKLAHOMA CITY - Like any other job seeker, LaQuisha Braggs walked through the front doors of Douglass High School with a hopeful look. She was seeking something along the lines of office work to round out a resume on the way to opening her own business some day.

"Administrative work, inventory work," Braggs said.

"You gotta work," said another job fair visitor. "You gotta work."

"Yes," Braggs agreed. "You don't work - you don't eat."

21 different vendors set up tables paired with what planners like Denise Hyche and Keith Krouser hoped would be some 200 applicants.

The job fair deliberately set among Oklahoma City's other MLK events planned for the holiday.

"This job fair is open to anybody starting with age 16 and up," Hyche said.

In the last two years of his life, Dr. King began to put forth an idea that civil rights victories alone didn't do much to improve living conditions for the poorest Americans, that jobs and the possibility of making a better life were important too.

"That was one of the things he fought for was to end poverty. So, to empower these people to come in, find jobs and gain the funds they need to sustain themselves - that's powerful," Hyche said.

To that end, members of the local MLK Coalition schedule a job fair every King Holiday, screening honest employers and doing everything they can to lift the dignity of the individual seekers as well as the community in which they live.

"Once a person is working, their self-esteem and their self-worth rises. It also enhances the economics of the community," Krouser said.

No bands or fanfare, but this kind of MLK Day march is every bit as meaningful, planners said.

This one looks to the past and forward, to the second of King's big dreams - an end to poverty.

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