MLK's daughter weighs in on her father's dream in a polarized America

Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest child sits in the CNN Red Chair to reflect on tragedy, fear and hope.

Posted: Jan 20, 2020 1:41 PM
Updated: Jan 20, 2020 1:42 PM


Each year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day encourages Americans to come together and volunteer to improve their communities.

For some, this year's celebration is clouded by conflict, increasing racial division and deteriorating social circumstances. But the late civil rights leader's daughter Bernice King believes there is no better time to build community.

'The fierce urgency of now'

Bernice King also believes America needs his teaching more now than ever.

In "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" the last book written by King's father to be published in his lifetime, he wrote: "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late."

"In this critical hour and contentious climate, not only in the United States but in the world, I believe that we need to pay attention to these words from my father," said King. "We cannot spiritually, relationally or globally afford to ignore the injustice and inhumanity and must work fervently to build the beloved community," she said.

King's 2020 vision

As CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, King preserves her father's legacy and promotes his philosophies of non-violence, justice and community. People are divided today because they are disconnected, something she believes her father would try to change, she said.

"Humanity engaging each other as a human family in our World House greatly depends on us understanding our interrelatedness and interconnectedness."

"As Daddy said, 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.' Our very survival hinges on us, recognizing this."

King believes that this recognition should lead to bolder actions like courageous conversations addressing the pain of racism and injustice.

"Truth is essential," she said.

"We really struggle with facing the truth of this nation's history and of the devastating, dehumanizing impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and the racism that persists today. So, we need to have some courageous conversations and some repentance as a nation."

"We have to understand the connection between peace, love, and justice. Once we understand this connection, we can begin to more strategically build the consciousness and the coalitions to change unjust systems and to correct hate."

Sustaining the dream

Asked if she felt her father's dream has been deferred, King noted the victories but said there's work to be done to sustain the gains.

"When we are not diligent and attentive, people with injustice in mind will, with great diligence and attention, destroy what's been built and try to reverse progress."

To King, now is not a time for apathy or complacency. It is time for positive action. "We have to understand my father's teachings and his work in a comprehensive way," she said.

"That will help us embrace the love ethic, but also be able to actualize love by treating each other with dignity and respect and in pursuit of true peace, which includes justice."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312608

Reported Deaths: 7221
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21429257
Hinds20256414
Harrison17776308
Rankin13539278
Jackson13395246
Madison10051217
Lee9956173
Jones8364163
Forrest7633152
Lauderdale7215240
Lowndes6359144
Lamar620286
Lafayette6162118
Washington5320133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460398
Panola4545104
Pearl River4495145
Marshall4387103
Warren4368120
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408776
Neshoba4028176
Lincoln3939110
Hancock376686
Leflore3484125
Sunflower335290
Tate331684
Pike3290105
Scott314873
Alcorn310768
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299377
Copiah295865
Coahoma293979
Simpson293788
Tippah287268
Prentiss278560
Marion268680
Leake264973
Wayne262241
Grenada259985
Adams259882
Covington256281
Newton246961
George246748
Winston226981
Tishomingo225067
Jasper220748
Attala214273
Chickasaw207057
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181433
Clarke178179
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169532
Yalobusha162936
Smith162034
Walthall133745
Greene130233
Lawrence128223
Noxubee126834
Montgomery126742
Perry126038
Amite123442
Carroll121628
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102130
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95628
Franklin83323
Quitman79616
Choctaw75818
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 528784

Reported Deaths: 10913
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson762251516
Mobile40864804
Madison34569501
Tuscaloosa25646451
Montgomery24264585
Shelby23355246
Baldwin20993306
Lee15800168
Calhoun14457312
Morgan14250279
Etowah13796352
Marshall12166222
Houston10506280
Elmore10017205
Limestone9935150
Cullman9617193
St. Clair9584237
Lauderdale9397238
DeKalb8813185
Talladega8183175
Walker7205279
Autauga6910107
Jackson6793110
Blount6621135
Colbert6282134
Coffee5491115
Dale4810111
Russell437938
Chilton4244111
Franklin423882
Covington4105117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia392675
Chambers3545123
Dallas3536150
Clarke350360
Marion3092100
Pike309177
Lawrence299698
Winston273572
Bibb259763
Marengo248564
Geneva247075
Pickens233559
Barbour230256
Hale221776
Butler215469
Fayette211962
Henry188544
Cherokee183845
Randolph179241
Monroe176240
Washington166839
Macon158649
Clay153356
Crenshaw151657
Cleburne148341
Lamar141234
Lowndes138453
Wilcox126528
Bullock122941
Conecuh110028
Perry107526
Coosa106828
Sumter104132
Greene92234
Choctaw60324
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