January 17, 2022

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Today, we are proud to honor and commemorate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, social equity activist, and outspoken advocate against racism and segregation. His dream of a more inclusive America that embraces its diversity and lives up to its constitution, “that all men are created equal,” was the beginning of a reality we are living in today.

Still, there’s work to do as our nation continues to face systemic racism and the effects from lack of reparations. This is why the U.S. Hemp Roundtable founded its Minority Empowerment Committee (MEC) — to do our part in creating an equitable and impactful hemp industry for all, while addressing longstanding discriminations due to its tragic legacy tied with slavery and the drug war. Read the full MEC full mission statement here.

We have made a solemn and long term commitment to hold ourselves and our members to the most inclusive standards, to serve as a resource for minority owned enterprises and farmers of color, and to advocate for more just and fair public policy. Accordingly, our Board of Directors unanimously adopted an equity and inclusion framework developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In so doing, the Roundtable and its member companies and organizations – representing most of the industry’s key leaders – agreed to a multi-year, continually-adapting program to promote racial equity and inclusion in every link of the U.S. hemp industry.

Since its formation in 2020, the MEC has organized two complimentary webinars for small and minority-owned hemp or CBD businesses and prepared a comprehensive DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) survey now required for U.S. Roundtable members to submit.

At the MEC’s urging, the Roundtable endorsed the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act that will deliver $5 billion in direct relief to Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic farmers and other agricultural producers of color to help them respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to address long standing inequity in agriculture.

The MEC is now working with congressional leaders toward the introduction of legislation that will promote hemp research at Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) later this year. The MEC remains committed to repealing the drug felon ban on hemp licenses and also looks forward to announcing the details of a scholarship during Black History Month!

While the U.S. Hemp Roundtable’s work through the MEC pales in comparison to the efforts and impact of MLK, it’s our goal to embody his underlying principles through MEC initiatives by doing what we can to hold our industry accountable to justice and equity for all.

This MLK Day, we reiterate our commitment to promoting economic empowerment for communities of color and minority-owned enterprises by establishing and adopting metrics and timetables for our member firms, advancing policy and legislative reform, promoting mentorship, and generating new business opportunities through our MEC.