His father spoke of a dream he had in 1963, but for Martin Luther King III that dream has become part of a legacy that is far from being accomplished.
“I think about what my father would say about this world we live in today. And I think about where his mindset would be because he, in his life, wanted to eradicate the triple evils; poverty, racism and violence,” said King to an audience of about 400 that had gathered in the Hall auditorium last Thursday as part of Concordia’s Black History Month festivities.
But as King continued to speak it became clear that, while many strides have been made towards his father’s vision, poverty, racism, and violence are still very much present in the world today.
What was most alarming to King was the violence that continues to exist in the world. He turned to the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona which left six people dead and the rising homicide rates in the United States as examples. For King, the trouble began with the acceptance of a “culture of violence.”
“We’ve created a culture of violence, a violent society,” he said. “We’ve got to create a
society and culture of non-violence. My father used to say, ‘We can swim the seas like fish, and we can fly the in the air like birds. But we haven’t learnt the basic human ability to get along like brothers and sisters.’ He said that back then, I can’t imagine what he would say today.”
King also spoke of the day he found out that his father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was shot and killed while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tenn. nearly 45 years ago and what it took to forgive the man that opened fire, James Earl Ray.
“It would have been easy for me to embrace hatred,” explained King. “It’s so easy to embrace hostility or to carry around frustration and anger. What I am thankful for is the spirit of forgiveness. I learned to dislike the evil act but still love the individual. We have to learn how to forgive. We would have a much better society if we were able to embrace forgiveness.”
With his parting words King encouraged everyone to find the “good that exists in each of us” and create the “best society that ever existed.” He pointed out that all it takes for change is a “few good women and men, that were dedicated, determined, and dependable.” King then turned to the students gathered in the crowd.
“The world needs you, it needs your leadership,” he told them.
See our one-on-one with King at www.theconcordian.com