King Walking in Father’s Steps

by Adam Wilson

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Bernice King during a speech at the Lorraine Hotel. Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Bernice King, the daughter of assassinated civil rights figure Martin Luther King has taken up the mantle from her father, and is now committed to revitalizing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group co-founded by her father.

Her call for a rejuvenation of the group has come after it was damaged by infighting, particularly Bernice and her brother, Martin Luther King III, who started a legal battle against a third sibling over the management of their father’s estate.

King spoke at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where her father celebrated his last birthday before he was killed. She stated that she would use her family’s legacy to encourage social justice.

She said one of her aims was to build a connection between social activists of the 1960’s and the current generation, ‘I stand before you as a daughter of the civil rights movement calling forth the daughters and sons of the next generation of social change’.

However, King’s priorities have been questioned over the years. In 2004 she participated in a march against gay marriage in Atlanta. This act created tension among the King family as Coretta Scott King, her mother, and Yolanda Denise King, her sister who are both advocates of gay rights. In defense her views she has stated ‘I know deep down in my sanctified soul that he did not take a bullet for same-sex unions’.

Her views on same-sex marriage will be a significant issue that will be touched upon during her new Presidency of the SCLC.