A friend and I saw Martin Luther King Jr.’s youngest child, Bernice, speak at the Boston Public Library as part of the Lowell Institute Lecture Series. Like her father, she is a minister, as well as being CEO of the King Center.
She inherited her father’s mesmerizing speaking skills. She started out by encouraging the audience to visit the new Legacy Museum and Memorial that just opened in Montgomery, Alabama. I had heard a little about the lynching memorial, but I made a promise to myself to really read about it and the museum. She then launched into her (and her father’s) philosophy of nonviolence to create social change.
A theme she repeated a few times was that justice must come from a place of love, not anger and retaliation. She quoted her father’s work and explained that when he had the idea for the bus boycott, his goal was not to shut down the bus company, but to infuse justice INTO the bus company.
I asked myself multiple times during her talk, “Is MLK Jr. rolling in his grave, knowing that 50 years later, we are still failing at combating racism?” His hope that his four children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin is still a hope and nowhere near a reality.
I haven’t read any of MLK Jr.’s books, but hearing her quote from them, I am eager to read them. I’ll start at the beginning, with Stride Toward Freedom.
Even though King barely knew her father (she was five years old when he was assassinated), she seems to share his passion for this crucial social justice work.