By following the examples of Mission Waco and The Dudley Street Initiative, it is possible to renew a sense of beloved community by changing the narrative of poverty and gentrification by rebuilding the village through empowering the poor and marginalized.

Mission Waco and The Dudley Street Initiative are comprehensive sustainable communities because they combine numerous social and economic interventions under developed strategic plans. The principal question that this dissertation seeks to answer is whether these models can be implemented in local communities to help overcome gentrification and poverty. Implementation can be successful if we can identify the problem, rethink our theology and reimagine the community. The central hypothesis of the dissertation is that at a local and state level, a strategic approach to the beloved community can be achieved, but the beloved community cannot be achieved by following past approaches that have not worked to solve the current problem. To truly accomplish a beloved community, poverty needs to be abolished. The way to do this is to adhere to what King prescribed in his work in 1967. There needs to be an Economic Bill of Rights that goes alongside the existing political Bill of Rights. To make this happen, there needs to be a constitutional amendment that states there will be no poverty. Poverty needs to be abolished in the same fashion that slavery was abolished.

Mission Waco and Dudley Street are utilized as a case study of implementation. The study examines real-world knowledge about the behaviors, social structures, and shared beliefs related to poverty and gentrification. To provide insight into how poverty and gentrification’s narrative can be changed, empowerment models will be used as examples to show it is possible to create sustainable “beloved” communities that result in transformation.

Degree Date


Document Type


Degree Name





Dr. Theodore Walker

Second Advisor

Dr. Harold J. Recinos

Third Advisor

Dr. James Lee

Subject Area

Economics, History, Humanities, Humanities, General/Other, Law, Political Science and Government, Public Policy, Religion, Theology/Religious Education, Urban Planning


Keywords: Martin Luther King, Jr., Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Mission Waco, Gentrification, Systemic poverty, Abolishing poverty, Biblical poverty, Sustainable communities, Community economic development, Empowerment, Beloved community, Opportunity Theory, Poverty

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License