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Abandoning Hate Will Prevent Us From Perishing as Fools

the rev dr martin luther king junior in london england

U.S. clergyman, civil rights leader, and eventual Nobel Peace Prize winner, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is seen on Sept. 21, 1964, in London, England, at a press conference. (AFP via Getty Images)

By Friday, 15 January 2021 04:36 PM Current | Bio | Archive

People often ask me what my Uncle the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would think or say today. While I don’t want to put words in his mouth, growing up in the King family does give me a bit of an inside track.

We do have have King’s written and spoken words, biblically based;all in favor of human life from beginning to end.

Either way, we don’t even need insider knowledge to know what Dr. King would say about what’s happening in our nation right now: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Surely, the violence at the U.S. Capitol would have broken his heart, as would the partisan witch-hunts which seemingly multiply daily.

From his national pulpit, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would proclaim that the tools with which we need to move forward are compassion and forgiveness.

"We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself," he once said. "We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts." — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My earliest memory of my uncle was the marriage of Martin and Coretta.

I was the flower girl at their wedding, which took place on the lawn of my aunt’s parent’s house in Marion, Alabama, in June 1953.

I was almost three-years-old.

My early memories were just like snapshots, yet I knew even then that I was a member of a family whose faith in God was the driving force.

My granddaddy, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., and my grandmother, Alberta Williams King, instilled in their three children, Christine, Martin and Alfred, that the King Family Legacy is one established by God, in faith, hope and love.

It was that faith, that deep and consequential love of God that brought my family to a level of leadership of the 20the century Civil Rights Movement.

"Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism," Uncle "ML" said. "It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another."

We were also taught that forgiveness must be bestowed willingly, freely and without conditions. Those were lessons we fell back on many times as we were called on to forgive, publicly and sincerely, the most heinous of crimes.

It’s true we lived in the spotlight, and many of the Civil Rights Leaders passed through our homes on a regular basis during their journey. Yet, in many ways, we were just a normal family. My daddy, Rev. A.D. King, would wrestle with his older brother, Uncle ML, while the family chuckled in the background.

They were playful and joyful and growing up around them was a lot of fun.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, I was just 17- -years-old and in the restive way of teenagers, I wanted to blame all white people.

I wanted to give hate room to grow in my heart. But my mother and father and my grandparents and Uncle ML reminded all of us that hate only begets more hate, and, globally, there should be no room for animosity, mistrust, or hostility.

When my uncle was killed on April 4 1968, I remember talking to my daddy about my feelings of hating white people. Daddy rocked me in his arms and said to me, "White people march with us, they go to jail with us, they pray with us, they live with us, and they die with us. White people didn’t kill your uncle, the Devil did."

The next year I was called to forgive again — not only those still-unknown people who had killed my uncle, but now they had killed my father. I had to forgive yet another injustice; including all those that had shrugged off my daddy’s death and called it a suicide.

During this time from 1968 to 1974 much was happening in my life.

I became engaged to be married in 1968, a bride in 1969, then a mother in 1970.

Still reeling from the brutal deaths of my daddy and uncle I experienced two abortions and a miscarriage. Then on June 30, 1974 my beloved grandmother Alberta King was murdered while playing the Lord’s Prayer on the organ during Sunday services at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Back then I didn’t think my broken heart was big enough to forgive and to go on loving my fellow men and women. But love and forgiveness were the King family legacy, and while that legacy sometimes felt like a burden, I see now how it is a gift.

"I have decided to stick with love," my uncle famously said. "Hate is too great a burden to bear."

That’s what he would tell us today, and what I say whenever I am given an opportunity.

This year, as we observe Martin Luther King Day, I urge everyone to remember that it is designated not as a day off from work, but as a day on of service.

We can all find something constructive to do in our communities, even if it’s just shaking the hand of the neighbor who supported a different candidate.

Anything we can do to increase the peace is more than worth our efforts.

Love, my Uncle ML said, "is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."

When we learn to value the human personality, and understand that we are one blood and one human race, we can learn to live together as brothers and sisters and we won’t perish as fools.

Dr. Alveda C. King grew up in the civil rights movement led by her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She is director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. Her family home in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed, as was her father's church office in Louisville, Ky. Alveda herself was jailed during the open housing movement. Read Dr. Alveda C. King's Reports — More Here.

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When we learn to value the human personality, and understand that we are one blood and one human race, we can learn to live together as brothers and sisters and we won’t perish as fools.
coretta, martin, mlk
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2021-36-15
Friday, 15 January 2021 04:36 PM
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