Martin Luther King Jr.’s Daughter Says ‘People Often Ask’ What He Would Say Today

American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929  - 1968) at a press conference in London, September 1964.(Photo by Reg Lancaster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Daughter Says ‘People Often Ask’ What He Would Say Today

Bernice A. King is the youngest child of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King.

Published January 15th

Written by Zayda Rivera

The day before what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 91st birthday, his youngest daughter with Coretta Scott King tweeted what most people ask about her father. 

“People often ask me, ‘What would he say were he alive today?’” Bernice A. King tweeted Tuesday (Jan. 14). “He said it. We’re just not listening. He beckoned us far above civility.”

Bernice, who is the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, based in Atlanta, added, “Love. Justice. True Peace. Mercy. Beloved Community.” 

She was only 5 years old when her father was assassinated, The Atlantic reports.

As a part of The Atlantic’s special coverage of Dr. King’s legacy on his birthday, Jan. 15, and ahead of the national holiday to celebrate his life, on Jan. 20, the outlet republished an archived story Bernice wrote in 2018 in which she revealed three actions she believed he’d offer if he were still alive.

The three actions she outlined, Bernice wrote, would “help us harness redemptive goodwill and choose nonviolence.” 

“The first action is to be what he phrased as ‘creatively maladjusted,’” she wrote. “We cannot afford to regard as normal the presence of injustice, inhumanity, and violence, including their verbal and cyber manifestations. We must refuse to adjust to ideals and policies that crush families, lay waste to communities, and yield refugees across the globe. When we decide not to accept what should be unacceptable, we begin to open ourselves up to the mental attitude and spiritual altitude to build the beloved community.”

She added that her father’s second action would be to “serve as a force of light,” describing how her father once stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

While it’s a quote often used, Bernice wrote of her concern that people don’t realize what her father truly meant with that statement, which includes “both a physical and a spiritual truth.” 

“If we become darkness in response to darkness, then we perpetuate a descending spiral of hate and hopelessness,” she wrote. “Each of us must decide whether it is more important to be proved right or to provoke righteousness.”

Finally, Bernice wrote that if her father were alive today, he would take action to make sure everyone understood what it meant to be a part of a “world house.” 

“A diverse, multicultural, dynamic house in which each nation represents a room,” she wrote.
“For our house to survive, we cannot look away when one of the rooms is in flames. And certainly we should not exacerbate the fire, or the whole house will eventually burn down.”

(Photo: Reg Lancaster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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