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The ‘authentic King’

1/25/2019, 6 a.m.
The Rev. Bernice A. King is the youngest daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and echoes the ...

The Rev. Bernice A. King is the youngest daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and echoes the passion and promise he voiced for America.

Speaking Monday, Jan. 21, at the annual service honoring Dr. King at the “spiritual home,” Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he grew up and where his father had been pastor for more than four decades when he became co-pastor, Rev. King reminds us of the lessons taught by the “authentic King,” who would be 90 years old now, and guides our thinking toward how to respond in today’s world. 

Rev. King, who was 5 when her father died, is now 55 and CEO of The King Center in Atlanta.

Here are her words.

— Richmond Free Press editor

As we commemorate what would have been my father’s 90th birthday, I believe and declare that we are in a state of emergency. We are in state of emergency because of our humanitarian crisis, and it’s not at our southern borders. It is in our nation and many nations of the world. The concern and compassion for human welfare across the board is being threatened. 

In this nation and many nations around the world, we have witnessed the powerful resurgence of nationalistic and white supremacist ideologies that are perpetuating the dangerous, damning and destructive policies and practices against all of humanity.

My brothers and sisters, our humanity is literally on the verge of digressing to two Americas and becoming the dis-United States of America. This is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency when people, including children, are seeking a better life and are tear-gassed and caged. This is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency. When chilling displays of hate, discrimination, racism and indifference are lauded, and when black lives are endangered by calls to police for trivial, non-criminal matters, then this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency.

When prejudice and bigotry are emboldened by harmful rhetoric and policies spoken and supported by heads of nations, and xenophobia and Islamophobia rear their hateful heads, then this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency. When our schools continue to be unsafe spaces for learning because of impotent gun control laws, this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency.

When there are assaults on voter integrity and voter access in some of our democratic elections, this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in an emergency. 

When the right to protest, a fundamental right in a viable democracy, is challenged in America and some elected officials and citizens question what my father called the right to protest for rights, when economic injustice persists with many not receiving a living wage and the gender wage gap is not eliminated, this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency.

When the criminal justice system continues to fail people of color, and housing discrimination based on race and income source continue to be a barrier to affordable housing, and when extreme natural disasters, the results according to reputable scientists of climate change and our inattention to it, culminate in death and destruction, then this is a humanitarian crisis and we are in a state of emergency.