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: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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