Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., continues father's message
Dr. Bernice King addressed the packed lunch-time crowd at OU Health Sciences Center, speaking on the life, philosophies and triumphs of her father — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
She also spoke about work still to be done.
“He wanted to ensure that progress would not stop,” she said. “He was a man of deep conscience. He was driven by his conscience. I’m afraid as we look at this world today, we are lacking that same level of consciousness in America and the world.”
King was the keynote speaker Wednesday as part of the OUHSC’s 2020 Martin L. King Jr. Celebration, honoring the icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
The event was sponsored by the African-American Student Association at the OU Health Sciences Center.
Association president, Andrea Latson-Chambers, spoke about what an honor it was to have Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King speak at the event.
“(King) has definitely taken on the reins of her father and her mother,” Latson-Chambers said. “But (she’s taken) her own spin on it with Nonviolence365. To have that non-violent theme that her father wanted to have, but to take it further.”
Nonviolence365 is a program hosted by The King Center aimed at helping people "embrace nonviolence as a lifestyle and as a vehicle for social change."
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King began her speech Wednesday by reminding all in attendance that her father would not be the celebrated figure he is today without the tireless work of her mother, Coretta Scott King.
“She devoted all of her life to institutionalizing his work and his legacy,” King said of her mother. “She traveled all around the world so that people would know that there was more to the movement than what people observed on film.”
King said while many remember her father for the speeches, demonstrations, protests and sit-ins that created some of the most enduring images of the civil rights movement, it was the work and the relationships built behind the scenes that did most of the heavy lifting to make change.
"My father used to say that love and power have been contrasted as polar opposites," King said. "Love is often identified as a resignation of power and power as a denial of love.
"He went on to say what is needed is a realization. That power without love is reckless and abusive and love without power is sentimental and anemic."
King also urged the crowd to look into the root of the racial divide and injustice in the United States as a reason why we are still divided today.
“Our motive must be to bring together love and power so that we can see social transformation,” she said. “In the absence of that, especially as we look at this nation and the levers of power, we end up with things like health disparities. These disparities run the gamut in every area of American life. There are grave racial disparities.”
But King said those disparities are no longer being hidden.
“More people are letting their voices be heard,” King said. "The reason I believe we have not made the kind of progress that we should have made between 1968 and now is because too many people remain silent. And as Daddy reminded us our life begins to end the day we remain silent about the things that matter.
“But the next generation is raising their voices.”
King finished by speaking about the importance of listening to others and not just trying to win every argument.
“The goal in the beloved community is to win people over, not win over people,” King said. “It’s not a place that has an absence of conflict, but it's a place where people can join together collectively, and work together collectively, to ensure that everyone is valued as a human being, and that every person is treated with dignity.”