Mayor Lori Lightfoot Makes Call to Action at MLK Breakfast: ‘We Cannot Continue to Leave People Behind' in Chicago

“We have the power today to build and rebuild communities that have been left out and left behind for generations," the mayor said. "And the power to do it in our areas where it’s needed the most."


Chicago Tribune

By Gregory Pratt

At the city’s interfaith breakfast honoring Martin Luther King Jr., Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday hailed the work her administration has done to address poverty and equity in Chicago while acknowledging there’s much more work to do.

I ran for mayor of this great city so that kids that look like me and came from families like mine would never, ever, ever have to 'beat the odds’ to get a good education, a good job, and blaze a trail towards their wildest dreams. Those are things that should not require ‘beating the odds,’” Lightfoot told a packed crowd at the Marriott Marquis.

"The opportunity for our children, all of our children, must be at our fingertips. We have work to do to make that bold and audacious goal a reality but I know that we can get there.”

Lightfoot, the city’s first African American woman mayor, also used the occasion to call for more business investment in struggling neighborhoods. As part of her speech, Lightfoot hailed BMO Harris for committing $10 million to her INVEST South/West initiative. She also praised a $10 million fund Starbucks has promised for small business loans.

“We cannot continue to leave people behind in the city and we need your help to step up, to support them, so that we all benefit from the greatness of this city,” Lightfoot said.

In a speech to a room full of dignitaries and community leaders, Lightfoot highlighted her administration’s successes so far, including passing a “fair workweek” law and fines and fees reforms.

“Our work has begun in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, now and not waiting until 2025,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot also hailed her administration’s efforts to curb aldermanic prerogative and implement other ethics reforms "so neighborhood businesses no longer have to give something to get access to basic city services.”

Today, we have the power to end poverty by growing our economy and rebuilding our neighborhoods. To strengthen historic areas like manufacturing, while also driving investment in growth industries like technology and transportation,” Lightfoot said.

“We have the power today to build and rebuild communities that have been left out and left behind for generations. And the power to do it in our areas where it’s needed the most -- like on our South and West sides.”

Ultimately, Lightfoot said, she wants to "create a more inclusive and equitable city that will not only give hope to our neighborhoods, but halt the exodus of families leaving our borders for new homes elsewhere because they don’t believe that Chicago cares about them and is willing to make sure their futures can be thriving and vibrant as everyone else in every neighborhood in Chicago.”

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