On King’s Holiday, Daughter Calls For Bold Action Over Words!

On King’s Holiday, Daughter Calls For Bold Action Over Words: Although America has recognized Martin Luther King Jr. with a federal holiday for nearly 40 years, his youngest daughter said on Monday that the country hasn’t fully embraced and put the lessons he taught into practice.

The Rev. Bernice King, in charge of The King Center in Atlanta, claimed that authorities, particularly politicians, frequently devalue her father’s legacy by transforming him into a “comfortable and convenient King” who offers simple platitudes.

“We love to quote King in and around the holiday. … But then we refuse to live King 365 days of the year,” she declared at the commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where her father once preached.

The center’s annual service at Ebenezer was the highlight of the 38th national King holiday celebrations. King would have turned 94 on Sunday. He was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 while fighting for better pay and working conditions for the city’s sanitation workers.

Bernice King lamented institutional and individual racism, economic and health care inequities, police violence, a militarized international order, rigid immigration structures, and the climate crisis in a voice that rose and fell in cadences reminiscent of her father’s. She expressed her “exhaustion, exasperation, and, frankly, disappointment” at hearing her father’s words about justice being referenced frequently and seeing “so little progress” in solving society’s most serious issues.

On King's Holiday, Daughter Calls For Bold Action Over Words
On King’s Holiday, Daughter Calls For Bold Action Over Words

“He was God’s prophet sent to this nation and even the world to guide us and forewarn us. … A prophetic word calls for an inconvenience because it challenges us to change our hearts, minds, and behavior,” Bernice King said. “Dr. King, the inconvenient King, demands us to change our ways.”

The National Action Network, founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, hosted an MLK breakfast in Washington, D.C., where President Joe Biden spoke. As the youth director of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s anti-poverty project, Sharpton began his career as a civil rights activist in his teens.

Biden reiterated themes from a speech he gave on Sunday at Ebenezer at Sen. Raphael Warnock’s invitation. Sen. Warnock is the senior pastor at Ebenezer and the first Black senator of Georgia who just won re-election to a full term.

“Will we choose democracy over autocracy or community over chaos? Love over hate?” Biden asked Monday. “These are the questions of our time that I ran for president to try to help answer. … Dr. King’s’ life and legacy — in my view — shows the way forward.”

Martin Luther King III was there for a wreath-laying ceremony at his father’s national memorial in a different part of Washington. The first woman and person of color to serve as vice president, Kamala Harris, also addressed volunteers at a day of service initiative at George Washington University.

A memorial march in San Antonio drew a large crowd. After a two-year hiatus due to the epidemic, the Kingdom Day Parade returned to Los Angeles.

Other commemorations repeated Bernice King’s warning and Vice President Biden’s references that the “Beloved Community,” which was Martin Luther King’s term for a society devoid of fear, bigotry, hunger, and violence, is still unattainable.

Mayor Michelle Wu of Boston spoke about spreading the truth during extreme partisanship and disinformation.

“We’re’ battling not just two sides or left, or right and a gradient in between that have to come somehow to compromise. Still, a growing movement of hate, abuse, extremism, and white supremacy fueled by misinformation, driven by conspiracy theories that are taking root at every level,” she said.

Education restores trust, according to Wu, the first woman and person of color to be elected mayor of Boston. She cited King when she urged overcoming the “weariness of despair” to bring about change. Wu addressed those in attendance at a memorial breakfast that “it is sometimes in those moments when we feel most worn out, most despairing, that we are just about to break through.”

Philadelphia volunteers carried out community service initiatives emphasizing reducing gun violence. Homicides have increased dramatically in the city, with 516 individuals killed in 2017 and 562 the year before—the highest number in at least 60 years.

Some volunteers worked to put together gun safety kits for public distribution as part of the effort’s centerpiece project, which the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia directed. According to the organizers, the kits come with “gun cable locks and various safety mechanisms for childproofing.” They also contain details on how to store firearms, social and health assistance, and coping after gun violence.

Other kits being put together featured the “Fighting Chance” program of Temple University Hospital and contained supplies to enable quick assistance to victims at the scene of gunshots, according to the organizers. They added that recipients would receive training on utilizing the collections, including tourniquets, gauze, chest seals, and other tools for treating severe wounds.

Residents of Selma, Alabama, a crucial location in the civil rights fight, remembered King as they recovered from a terrible storm system that passed through the South last week.

When Alabama state police attacked and battered demonstrators on “Bloody Sunday” in March 1965, King was not present at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress and signed by President Lyndon Johnson as a result of efforts that he joined later in a procession that successfully crossed the bridge leading to the Capitol in Montgomery.

The storm on Thursday had little effect on the Pettus Bridge.

Monday, the first Black House speaker in Maine urged citizens to participate in charitable deeds in King’s memory.

According to a statement from Rachel Talbot Ross, his unwavering faith, effective nonviolent activity, and vision for peace and justice in the globe “alternated the course of history.” Talbot Ross is a former president of the Portland NAACP and the daughter of Maine’s first black lawmaker.

“We must follow his example of leading with light and love and recommit ourselves to building a more compassionate, just, and equal community,” she added.

Warnock, who has been the pastor of Ebenezer for 17 years, praised his predecessor’s accomplishments in gaining voting rights for Black Americans. However, like Bernice King, the senator cautioned against having a narrow perspective on King.

“Don’t’ call him a civil rights leader. He was a faith leader,” Warnock said. “Faith was the foundation upon which he did everything he did. You won’t’ face down dogs and water hoses because you read Nietzsche or Niebuhr. You gotta tap into that thing that God said he met anew in Montgomery when someone threatened to bomb his house and kill his wife and his new child.”

To transform faith into “the creative weapon of compassion and nonviolence,” King, according to Warnock, “abandoned the comfort of a filter that made the whole world his church.”

Warnock acknowledged some advancements throughout his life while reiterating Bernice King’s plea for more daring public policy. Warnock, who has run for the Senate twice, pointed out that he was born at a time when both Georgia senators were ardent supporters of segregation, including one who loved “the Negro” as long as he was “in his place at the back door.”

But Warnock said, “because of what Dr. King did and because of what you did … I now sit in his se”t.”

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