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Memphis' continuing poverty leaves King's dream for city's poor unfulfilled

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Research shows that 70 percent of Americans born into poverty never make it to the middle class.

In no other large U.S. city is poverty more pronounced than in Memphis, the poorest metro area in the nation.

Forty-six years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis while fighting for better wages for black city sanitation workers.

Rarely considered by policymakers is King's prescription to cure poverty: a guaranteed income for all workers, "pegged to the median income."

The numbers are sobering: At $36,817, the median household income in Memphis is $14,000 lower than the nation's. Nearly 48 percent of Memphians — or more than 115,000 households — live on less than $35,000 a year.

That's more than three times the number of households that make between $35,000 and $49,999 and four times the number that make more than $100,000.

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