Maya Rockeymoore and Meizhu Lui, co-chairs of the Commission to Modernize Social Security, recently wrote an op-ed for the National Journal‘s “The Next America,” a feature on how demography shapes the national agenda. The op-ed discusses the persistence of income and wealth inequality in America:

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. argued that the isolation experienced by people of color living “on a lonely island of poverty” is unjust in a nation blessed with a “vast ocean of material prosperity.” Fifty years later, the racial wealth gap is just as stark and immoral, with families of color possessing only a few pennies for every dollar of wealth owned by white families.

The persistence of income and wealth inequality comes from years of disproportionately lower levels of earnings, employment, educational attainment, and ownership of family assets such as homes, stocks/bonds, savings accounts, and businesses. As a result, people of color have had significantly fewer opportunities to build assets over time and often lack the savings to ensure financial security throughout their lifetimes.

And the need to strengthen Social Security for future generations:

Although Social Security was not prominently mentioned by speakers during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it is a fact that this program plays an important role in raising the standard of living for all, but especially for people of color. As such, we cannot talk about achieving racial justice or launching a new civil-rights movement without standing in defense of Social Security.

Americans of all racial, ethnic, political, geographic, and gender backgrounds want Social Security preserved and strengthened for the future. It’s time for policymakers in Washington to choose community over chaos by ensuring that Social Security checks are paid in full.

Read the full article in the National Journal.