As tens of thousands of people marched to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial under the brilliant sunshine of the nation’s capital on Saturday, Dr. Alveda King tells Newsmax that her most poignant moment came when she realized part of her uncle’s iconic dream was being fulfilled on this special day.
“He had a dream that one day his four little children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. And I saw that happen today,” she said in an exclusive interview on Saturday. “And I believe that other parts of his dream will also come true.”
Fifty years ago on Aug. 28, the slain civil rights leader stirred a nation divided by race and turned the tide of the civil rights struggle when he challenged Americans to judge his four children by something other than the color of their skin.
On Saturday, two of those four children — Martin Lurther King III and Bernice King — now adults — made their own pleas to a new generation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
“This is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration,” said MLK’s son and eldest child. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.”
His sister Bernice, the youngest child — and the only one to become a minister — offered a prayer for the masses who had gathered to honor the 1963 march.
“Interestingly enough as I heard Martin III speak and then I heard Bernice King — the youngest speak — I actually judged the content of their character,” Observed Alveda King. “I said ‘wow Martin did real good. I really liked that.” And then when Bernice prayed I was like ‘oh lord, heaven’s come down.’”
She believes the moment was a gift from above.
“Listening to them, judging them by the content of their character, I know that that was prophetic,” said Alveda King, who was 12 during the 1963 march on Washington that is being commemorated all this week starting with today’s festivities that began at the Lincoln Memorial.
King recently conducted an audio interview with her mother, Naomi, who attended the '63 march with her late husband, the Rev. Alfred Daniel William King.
Saturday's event was an homage to a generation of activists that endured fire hoses, police abuse and indignities to demand equality for African Americans.
But there was a strong theme of unfinished business.
“There are many parts of the speech that have not come true,” Alveda King explained. “They were marching for jobs, decent housing, decent education, and justice.”
Organizers expected about 100,000 people to participate in the event, the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march that drew some 250,000 to the National Mall and ushered in the idea of massive, nonviolent demonstrations.
Marchers began arriving early Saturday, many staking out their spots as the sun rose in a clear sky over the Capitol. By midday, tens of thousands had gathered on the National Mall with some news organizations estimating the crowd at 200,000.
On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He will be joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Churches and groups have been asked to ring bells at 3 p.m. Wednesday, marking the exact time King spoke.
Sadly, recent events like the tragic shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin have once again stirred racial tensions and cast a pall over the possibility of true racial equality, according to Alveda King.
“It doesn’t matter to me what their skin color is,” said King, a Newsmax contributor. “We’ve not arrived when so many of our children are dying either by gun fire, beating each other up, abortion. We’re not there while our young people are dying. We’re just not there.”
She believes her late uncle was a prophet, who probably would not have been surprised that his “I Have a Dream” speech still resonates today.
“My uncle was a man of God,” she explained. “He knew he was a prophet and so I believe he would not be surprised. I believe he of course would have prayed and hoped that, that dream would have been realized by now. But I believe he would encourage us now to keep going, to not be in despair — not be discouraged.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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