Called to Carry the King Family Legacy
By Annika Young
The 700 Club
CBN.com -A man protesting in Ferguson, Missouri asked, “How can we begin to heal something that people don’t acknowledge that it’s broke?”
The events in Ferguson, Missouri have sparked a wildfire of protests and outcries against social injustice.
Some have responded with violence. A delegation from the King Center came with a message of peace. It was led by CEO, Bernice King, the daughter of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We call it Nonviolence 365. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice and not people. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. That’s my father’s philosophy and methodology of nonviolence.”
Like her father, Bernice says she was called to the pulpit and the forefront of social activism.
“I was just being obedient to what I believed was the voice of God calling me into ministry. As I’ve gone through this maturation in Christ and in my ministry, drawing closer to my father’s legacy, I’ve come to understand that I have a profound responsibility to carry the next phase of that.”
She believes affecting positive, social change begins and ends with the church. “Our role and responsibility is to really set the tone and direction of society and culture. I tell people all the time that the movement that was led by my father was a spiritual movement. It wasn’t a civil rights movement. It impacted civil rights. But it was a spiritual movement and its assignment was to civil rights.”
Personal memories of her father are few. She was only five when he was assassinated. Much of what she’s learned has come from his personal writings, documentaries, news clips, and her mother, Coretta Scott King. Over the years Bernice realized her mother was as crucial to the civil rights movement as her father.
“She didn’t get as much accolades, because if you ask me, of course Coretta Scott King needed Martin King in order to do what she did. But Martin King needed Coretta Scott King in order for him to become the icon that he is in the world today.”
As Bernice came into her own as a minister, her mother often told her that she was a lot like her father.
“When I would prepare to preach or even speak, I would tell her, ‘I’m not feeling good. I don’t have anything to say.’ She said, ‘You know, that’s interesting. Your Dad used to say that. He would do all this preparing and say, “I don’t have anything to say to the people.’ She said, ‘But, if you just open your mouth, God will speak.’ That’s what she used to tell me.”
Coretta Scott King dedicated her life to furthering her husband’s work. She founded the King Center in 1968.
“We had a joke. The King Center was her fifth child. So I thought I was the baby, but it was really the King Center. That’s why we have her side-by-side with him. Where else could she be buried?”
Today Bernice carries on both of her parents’ work as CEO of the King Center. Still, she knows she has her own path to follow.
“I’m trying to figure out what my legacy is, but I do know that I have been called to represent a standard of excellence and integrity. I see that we live in a world where there’s almost no standards. It’s like, ‘Whatever works for you.’ And we say, ‘As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else’ but what does that really mean? As Daddy said, ‘We’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. And what affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can’t be all that I ought be until you are all that you ought be and you can’t be all that you ought be until I am all that I ought be.’ We impact each other.”
Regardless of what her legacy might be, the end goal is no different than it was 60 years ago.
“'Begin,’ as Stephen Covey would say, ‘begin with the end in mind.’ Because you always want to preserve the possibility of reconnecting the brokenness in communities. That’s Christ. And He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. And that’s what this Nonviolence 365 is really about.”
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