Dr. Alveda King, niece of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., tells Newsmax TV that she has “mixed emotions” about President Obama’s plans to use her uncle’s Bible to take the oath of office for his second term in the White House.
“I have been having mixed emotions about President Obama using the Lincoln Bible and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Bible at his inauguration,” King said in an exclusive interview this week. “I think by the time I’m actually sitting there observing this – I’ll be watching it on television – I think the mixed emotions will be gone and I’ll just be sad.”
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Monday marks the annual Martin Luther King federal holiday in the U.S. and King acknowledges there is perhaps no better tribute than to have the first African-American president invoke MLK’s memory with the Bible during the second inauguration.
But Obama’s support of abortion, same-sex marriage, and free contraception under his unpopular Obamacare reform is difficult to reconcile with her uncle’s legacy as a man of God, she says.
“I really hope that when the president — and those who handle the Bible — I hope they just, even if they just accidentally slip it open, to where it says ‘choose life,’ or ‘God hates the shedding of innocent blood’ or something like that, I’m hoping it will just reverberate, shake them up a little bit,” said King, a pastoral associate and director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries.
But she is quick to add, “I know that the Bible was a gift from God and God does not teach us to deny anybody access to the Bible, and if they’re not going to use it for the right purposes, I’ll be praying for their hearts.”
Obama will be facing the Lincoln Memorial as he takes the oath for his second term with his hand to be placed both on the Bible owned by Martin Luther King Jr. as well as one owned by Abraham Lincoln. King's Bible was used early in his career as a preacher, and has never been part of a presidential inauguration.
King's children have described their father's King James version as his "traveling Bible" that he took as part of a collection of books he carried with him while constantly on the road and used for inspiration and preparing sermons and speeches. His daughter Bernice King says her father marked the pages with several dates from May 1954, the same month he delivered his first sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.
Despite the presence of an African-American in the White House, Alveda King is critical of the progress that Obama has made in addressing the most pressing issues facing the black community, such as high unemployment.
“Mr. President, we need jobs. We don’t need free birth control, and you’re funding Planned Parenthood,” she explained. “Sir, we could have had better schools with that $500 million. We could have had safer communities with that, and so we really don’t understand. If you want to help us, can you give us something that will give us jobs that will keep our children off the street?”
Inaugural planners say Obama plans to place his left hand on the stacked Bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as he raises his right hand to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. It hasn't been determined which will be on top, with Obama's hand actually resting on it, but King's is larger, so it may need to be on the bottom.
Obama used the Lincoln Bible while taking the oath four years ago — the first time it had been used since the 16th president's inauguration in 1861. Obama's inaugural committee says that the president plans to use the first lady's family's Bible for a private swearing-in at the White House on Sunday, Jan. 20. Public presidential inaugurations traditionally aren't held on Sundays, even though the Constitution states that a president's new term begins automatically at noon on the 20th.
A lone gunman, James Earl Ray, is believed to have fired the single shot on April 4, 1968 that cut down the civil rights leader on a balcony of the iconic Lorraine Motel in Memphis, but King’s family never fully accepted that account and in 1999 won a wrongful death claim against Loyd Jowers — who claimed responsibility for arranging the assassination — and “other unknown co-conspirators.”
Alveda King deferred to the words of her late grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., who believed that there was a conspiracy behind the deaths not only of Martin but also of her father — A.D., who was also a major strategist of the American civil rights movement.
“He said that, ‘They killed my sons,’ s-o-n-s, and that would have been Martin Luther King, Jr. and my father, Rev. A.D. King,” she recalled her grandfather saying. “So grandfather — my grandfather — felt it was institutionalized. He did not feel as though there was one man, that there was a force behind that that was resisting the message of agape love that my uncle promoted.”
Dubbed one of the “Sons of Thunder,” A.D. King was found dead in his family swimming pool on July 21, 1969. While the official cause of death was listed as accidental drowning, Alveda King says the circumstances simply didn’t add up, particularly since their family home had previously been firebombed.
“I was there when the incident response team pulled my father’s body out of the water,” she recalled. “He was in the swimming pool at our home. And the man said, “There’s no water in his lungs, he was dead when he hit the water.” My mother said when she went in to get his body he had bruises around his neck and his upper torso. I saw the bruises when they pulled him out of the water on his temple on his head. And so it’s obvious that there was some violence to his body and his life before he was killed and put in that swimming pool.”
If her uncle were alive today, his views would probably have been consistent with those of the Rev. Billy Graham, whom he preached with at Madison Square Garden, according to King.
“I believe my uncle if he happened to be invited to the White House — if he were today in this 21st century, he would go in and pray and counsel the president and his advisers and he would lead them back to the word of God,” she said. “I think he would encourage them with his sermon ‘Rediscovering Lost Values’ and I could imagine him saying, ‘Mr. President, I hear all of this, yes people have issues, and I know you want to use power to try to resolve those, but love — God’s love and humility — will take you further.”’
She said that would have been typical of the kind of message her uncle favored “so there’s no reason to imagine he would say anything different to the president of the United States,” according to King, who says that she will continue to pray for President Obama during his second term.
“I’ll start with the bible that he’s going to put his hand on — those two bibles, the Lincoln bible and the Martin Luther King bible — that those words in that bible will resonate and touch his heart in some way and that he will have the courage to hear the Lord and obey the Lord and that he can lead this nation into prayer and repentance,” said King, a Newsmax contributor.
“That’s just one of my prayers for the president, and I pray God will keep him and bring him to his seat at the throne.”
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