When I first met Evangelist Dr. Alveda C. King over 20 years ago, we bonded over our shared conviction that the battle against abortion is the civil rights movement of the 21st century.
She came to work at Priests for Life as the director of our Civil Rights for the Unborn program; so we could work together to secure the civil rights of every unborn child.
Something that happened last year at Georgia Tech underscores that there is still much work to be done.
The campus chapter of Students for Life of America (SFLA) contacted Priests for Life to invite Alveda to speak in September 2019. They wanted her to talk about her anti-abortion convictions, and the movement to protect the unborn. They were quite aware, of course, that her message of love and peaceful protest was nurtured as she grew up following the example of her parents, Naomi Barber King and Rev. A.D. King, and her paternal uncle, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alveda lives in Georgia and is a former state legislator, so she had a kind of built-in home court advantage for her talk at the Atlanta campus. The students were excited to be kicking-off their planned activities for the new school year with Dr. King’s talk.
The student anti-abortion group applied to the Student Government Association (SGA) for the funds to cover this campus event. These anti-abortion students, along with their classmates across campus, pay regularly into this fund, which is then used for events that various student groups organize.
Certainly, not all the students are going to agree with all the events for which the funds are allocated. The anti-abortion group’s members, for instance, do not agree with the students who were granted funds from this account to attend a Democratic Socialist event.
But because others on campus — students and administration alike — did not agree with the anti-abortion stance of the students who invited Alveda, the funds were not granted to cover the speaking engagement for which Priests for Life sent her.
The event took place nonetheless, privately funded.
But the students are fighting back on constitutional grounds, because what happened here was clearly "viewpoint discrimination," which is unconstitutional.
In other words, all the student groups on campus should have access to the account into which they all pay as long as they all follow the same rules that the campus sets for such access.
But those rules need to be viewpoint-neutral.
What’s good for supporters of Democratic Socialism should be good for supporters of the unborn.
But in this case it was not.
Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit last month to defend the students against this unfair treatment.
According to the legal complaint, officials of the school interrogated the anti-abortion students "on the content and viewpoints that would be presented" by the group and by Alveda King. The school stated that because Ms. King has been involved in religious ministries (she is employed fulltime by Priests for Life), Ms. King’s life was "inherently religious," and they could not separate the religious aspects of Ms. King’s life from the event.
They were also concerned about the "political" nature of the anti-abortion message, and about some of the other doctrinal positions Alveda believes.
So the application was denied.
This is not the first time those who are anti-abortion have met resistance on college campuses; indeed, it has become more of the rule than the exception. In fact, anti-abortion exhibits have been vandalized and sometimes even professors are involved in these anti-First Amendment outbursts.
What happened at Georgia Tech was even more troubling, considering the voice the student leaders wanted to silence. Evangelist King is the niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
She’s not a distant relative who never met him. He was a close relative.
Rev. King shared holidays and Sunday dinners with her until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Alveda was still in her teen years.
Dr. King's particular global view helped shaped hers.
He changed our nation — and the world.
But using the standard Georgia Tech used to refuse funding for his niece, "Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself would not even be welcome," the legal complaint noted.
While not directly addressing Georgia Tech or the legal challenge filed by Alliance Defending Freedom in federal court, Alveda wrote in a recent statement, "To advance truth, justice, and equality for the unborn and for all of us, freedom of speech and the robust exchange of ideas is essential."
Not only are the anti-abortion students, Alveda, and Priests for Life standing up for this principle, but so is our nation's 45th president, Donald John Trump.
Alveda noted that the president signed an executive order last year that said any college or university that receives federal funds most ensure that free speech is protected on campus.
"In fact the president has spoken of my uncle as an example of the positive change that can come about when all Americans are free to speak their mind, even when others vehemently disagree," she said.
She has also said, "In my work with Priests for Life, I am privileged to exercise that freedom in speaking for the right to life, and am grateful to God, whose Word I proclaim without fear. Every educational institute should support freedom of speech."
Fr. Frank Pavone is one of the most prominent anti-abortion leaders in the world. He became a Catholic priest in 1988 under Cardinal John O’Connor in New York. In 1993 he became National Director of Priests for Life. He is also the President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the National Pastoral Director of the Silent No More Campaign and of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels to about four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion. He broadcasts regularly on television, radio, and internet. He was asked by Mother Teresa to speak in India on abortion, and was asked by then-candidate Donald Trump to serve on his Pro-life and Catholic advisory councils and he is now the co-chair of Pro-Life Voices for Trump. He has served at the Vatican as an official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, which coordinates the anti-abortion activities of the Catholic Church. Read Fr. Frank Pavone Reports — More Here.
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