How Have MLK’s Children Carried on His Work?

Bernice King speaks about the legacy of her father, Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK Day is a time to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  When Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, his four children were all under the age of thirteen. Yolanda and Martin Luther III were 12 and 10. Dexter was 7 years old. The youngest, Bernice, was only 5 years old. The children faced the grief of losing their father. Throughout their lives, each has found their own way to carry on the legacy of their father. 

Like her father, Bernice King is a minister. She has served as the leader of the King Center for Nonviolent Change since 2012. The King Center is a living memorial to the life, work, and legacy of Dr. King. Bernice is a champion of nonviolence. She regularly speaks to students and young people about embracing nonviolence as a way of life. She has used social media not only to educate people about her father’s work but also things like voting rights to environmental issues. 

Dexter Scott King also served as a leader for the King Center for Nonviolent Change. He made movies and television specials about the civil rights movement. Dexter also wrote a book about what it was like to grow up in the King family. 

Yolanda King died in 2007. During her life, she used the arts to continue the legacy of her parents. She founded the production company, Higher Ground Productions. Part of the company’s mission is to serve as an agent of social change. Through her company, Yolanda developed film and television projects that encourage personal growth. 

Martin Luther, III has been a lifelong critic of what his father called the “triple evils” of poverty, racism, and militarism. He believes in creating a culture of nonviolence. This will help create a society where poverty is not accepted, racism is not tolerated, and war is greatly reduced. 

Martin Luther, III’s daughter, Yolanda Renee King, the only grandchild of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at the March for Our Lives, in 2018. She was only nine years old at the time. Her grandfather’s message of nonviolence was part of her speech. 

What Do You Think? Why do you think it was important for the children of Martin Luther King, Jr., to continue his work? 

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