MLK Day 2022: A Different Voice.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, a federal holiday.

As longtime readers may recall, it has long been my tradition to post one of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s lesser-known speeches: Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. He spoke these words at Manhattan’s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated at the age of 39. If you are not familiar with it, you can read the speech here, along with some of my thoughts on why it is so important, and still very relevant today.

Go ahead. I’ll wait here…

Oh good! You’re back! (I love you people. )

This year, I thought I’d do something different. I would like to post instead some of the words of Bernice Albertine King.

Bernice A. King, Chief Executive Officer of the King Center and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, in Austin, Texas on April 9, 2014. She is pictured reading a quote from her father, before remarks by former President Bill Clinton.Bernice A. King, lawyer, minister, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
She is pictured here reading a quote from her father before remarks by former President Bill Clinton, in Austin, Texas on April 9, 2014.
(Photo: Eric Draper, via LBJ Foundation under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

Bernice King is the youngest child of the Reverend Doctor and Coretta Scott King. She was 5 years old when her father was killed. Her activism has followed in the footsteps of both of her formidable.

Bernice King is a Christian minister, like her father. Also like her father, she tethers the religious ideas in her speeches to secular ideas of justice, compassion and love. And as I’ve noted before, this practice functions to bolster arguments for the religious-minded, but it neither negates nor replaces secular ones.

Speaking as a die-hard atheist, I believe without a doubt that I have more in common with the values of Beatrice King than I do with many prominent atheists. (If you’re a regular reader on this network, as especially if you’re a longtime fan of PZ’s, you know likely know exactly who I’m talking about. And if you don’t, consider yourself fortunate.) I also believe in the critical importance of boosting Black voices, particularly Black women’s voices.

See if you don’t agree that Bernice King’s voice speaks as powerfully to the Social Justice Warrior in you as it does to me.

(Source: GoodGoodGood)

Quotes about justice:

Justice and revenge are not the same thing. Justice is a continuum that includes accountability, change toward preventing further injustice, strategic hope, etc. As my father said, “Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
— Bernice King (emphasis in original)


We have to eradicate racism. Have to. And denying its current and past devastation won’t help us do that. People who thwart truth telling about how racism heavily influenced history and our today are only ensuring that it remains tomorrow. And that’s very likely the goal.
— Bernice King

This one is particularly relevant when Republican state houses and governors are now explicitly banning the teaching of critical race theory in public schools.

Folks are tired of being resilient. Justice prevents the need for it.
— Bernice King


Even the statement, ‘Let’s invite more Black people to the table,’ implies ownership of the table and control of who is invited. Racism is about power.”
— Bernice King

Oof. I am reminded of a somewhat analogous phenomenon occurring amongst those aforementioned prominent atheists: “Let’s invite more women to the table conferences.” I thought at the time that it was pure projection to think this was a feminist-motivated gesture of inclusion, as opposed to, say, an entitled whine for the presence of more women who would be available for men to hit on, and much, much worse. (Elevatorgate, anyone?)

Environmental injustice is a tangible, intolerable example of an exhibited moral laxity and minimal concern for healthy standards by corporations and political structures based on the race, ethnicity, and class of those being impacted.
— Bernice King

Quotes about her mother, Coretta Scott King:

Before she was a King, my mother was a peace advocate, a courageous leader, and an accomplished artist.
— Bernice King


With The King Center as her base, my mother pressed on to fulfill a role that changed lives and legislation. She was a woman who refused to surrender the reins of what she knew to be her assignment, even when male civil rights and business leaders tried to convince her that she should leave the work of building her husband’s legacy to them.
— Bernice King


In 1985, I joined my mother in a protest against apartheid in which we were arrested at the South African embassy in Washington, D.C. And she was at President-elect Mandela’s side in Johannesburg when he claimed victory in South Africa’s first free elections.
— Bernice King

In contrast, my mother was and is… whatever the exact opposite of ^that^ is.

Quotes about her father:

My father literally fought his entire life to ensure the inclusion of all people because he understood that we were intertwined and connected together in humanity.
— Bernice King


Daddy’s goal was the Beloved Community, where we engage each other with love, compassion and dignity. Where racism, war and poverty have been eradicated. Not where people say they’re blind to “color,” yet persist with injustice. A world where we see and treat each other humanely.
— Bernice King


Some people quote King to sustain the very things he was assassinated for strategically opposing. Racism still exists. It’s still killing, still interconnected with militarism and poverty. Still evil. My father’s dream was not that we ignore racism, but that we eradicate it.
— Bernice King (emphasis in original)

Quotes about reconciling truth and hope (and dear Lard do I need to work on this myself – google “depressive realism” for a potential explanation of why I find such reconciliation so difficult):

Being truthful about the state of our nation and world does not equal losing hope. Hope sees truth and STILL believes in better. That which dismisses or does not seek truth, but grins, saying “It will be okay,” is naiveté, not hope.
— Bernice King


Understanding that #ThisIsAmerica shouldn’t evoke hopelessness. Hope and truth are connected. Hope is not naïveté. It is bearing witness to truth, STILL believing in better and yielding the energy to contribute to better.
— Bernice King

Quotes about activism and doing the work:

Seek out your brothers and sisters of other cultures and join together in building alliances to put an end to all forms of racial discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice. There are people of good will of all races, religions, and nations who will join you in common quest for the betterment of society.
— Bernice King


Shining a light on someone else doesn’t diminish mine. Take time here to encourage people and lift them up.
— Bernice King


Continue to speak out against all forms of injustice to yourselves and others, and you will set a mighty example for your children and for future generations.
— Bernice King

The work is here.
The work is offline.
The work is online.
The work is internal.
The work is external.
The work is in the streets.
The work is in C-suites.
The work is in advocacy.
The work is in art.
The work is local.
The work is global.
The work is wherever we are.
— Bernice King

Let’s keep on working, people.

There are more Bernice King quotes at the link.