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One on one with Martin Luther King III

by Brennan Neill February 16, 2011

The Concordian: Your talk is entitled “My Father’s Dream, My Legacy.” How much of your father’s dream do you feel has been accomplished so far?

Martin Luther King III: I don’t know if I could put it in a percentage but let me characterize it this way: My father and his team had a mission towards the latter years to eradicate poverty, racism, militarism and violence around the world. As it relates to race, great strides have been made in America and the world. But we still are not where we need to be as a world community as it relates to tolerance of many different ethnic groups. In relationship to poverty, in the United States and the world, we’ve almost made no progress. In fact we’ve gone backwards. In relationship to militarism, we in the United States have the largest military and we haven’t made any progress there. We look at you as our neighbours and the violence here, while it exists, is miniscule compared to the epidemic violence that exists in the United States. We’re doing something wrong in relationship to addressing violence universally. Until we’re able to do that we won’t even be in the vicinity of achieving the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.

What about the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt?

We see remnants of that dream in Egypt. I hope and pray that the protesters, those that felt oppressed, will maintain this posture of nonviolence. Ultimately nonviolence will win. If they allow what has happened today to revert to violence then the opposition that has the military behind it wins. It’s the young people that have been primarily involved, although there are more than just young people; the majority of them have been nonviolent. That’s what’s positive to me. I just hope that the protesters can sustain that position.

Do you feel like you had an obligation to take on your father’s dream as your own legacy?

I believe growing up as a movement child I feel that it is, to some degree, an obligation or maybe even a calling. All of my siblings, to some degree, are involved. But I think we feel called. It’s like a ministry for us because our father and mother devoted their lives toward making our nation and world a better place for all of God’s children. If we can learn what we call nonviolence principals we can create that kind of climate in the nation and the world.

What are your thoughts on Black History Month and do you feel that it is enough?

I’m glad that it exists because it gives communities around the world an opportunity to acknowledge history that people of colour made to the world. But I would like to see it done differently, particularly in the States. For example when we open our history books ultimately we need to be studying the history of all the people that make up the population. When we close history books and schools in the summer we still need to be studying history of the all the different people. We have a better opportunity if it is spread out and incorporated over the year. We would have to have a very robust curriculum but a change is need.

What can students around the world do to continue your father’s dream?

What students can do is to decide to learn the philosophy of nonviolence and use it as a means to the ends. We have to create a nonviolent society, which begins with a culture of nonviolence. Until people demand that, it won’t happen.

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