Bernice King the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King has written a touching and powerful tribute to her father’s legacy for the Atlantic to memorialize the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination. In the piece, Bernice discusses how the world was forever changed by MLK’s radical devotion to justice and equality, and ruminates on what message her father would be spreading if he was still alive today.
“Now more than ever, I believe that my father would encourage humanity to join together in love, commit to assisting people around the globe, and travel the path of nonviolence toward the ‘beloved community’ — a society, as he envisioned it, of justice and equal opportunity,” Bernice writes.
In order to “help us harness redemptive goodwill and choose nonviolence”, Bernice believed her father would encourage people to take three actions: to be “creatively maladjusted” and not “regard as normal the presence of injustice, inhumanity, and violence”; to serve as a force of light; and to understand the world we live in as “a ‘world house’ — a diverse, multicultural, dynamic house in which each nation represents a room.”
Bernice acknowledged that there is much injustice in the world but insists her father would not have given up hope for humanity.
“I am hopeful,” Bernice said. “I have no doubt that my father, too, would be hopeful, even as our nation and our world grapple with a resurgence of divisive discourse and polarizing policies. As he told us, ‘The believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future.'”
Finally, Bernice looks back on her father’s death — an event that still causes her great pain. Still, she explains, she finds strength in her father’s commitment to his ideals even on the eve of his death.
“On the evening before he was killed, my father shared his final message,” Bernice writes. “‘It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world,’ he said. ‘It’s nonviolence or nonexistence.’ As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of his death, I implore us all to choose nonviolence and to embrace the spirit of “Together we win, with love for humanity.”