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Racial justice activism must focus on strategy


ATLANTA (AP) – The youngest daughter of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said she feared American society would collapse, telling Christian radio on Thursday that “I don’t know what will ultimately happen to the democracy”.

But Dr Bernice King also said she was determined to be part of the solution, working to transform minds and help unite a divided nation.

“There are a number of bridge builders, I am one of them, and we are determined to make sure that we do not lose our humanity,” King said.

Bernice King joined former United Nations Ambassador, Congressman and Mayor of Atlanta Andrew Young and several other panelists in a webinar hosted by the Alliance for Christian Media on the legacy of Dr. CT Vivian, strategist of the civil rights and mentor of many other personalities of the movement. . Vivian died last July at the age of 95, hours before Representative John Lewis died at age 80.

Bernice King’s father called Vivian “the greatest preacher who ever lived,” a fierce and influential advocate for social justice. Panelists also described Vivian’s optimism and humility, and her desire to see the best in others, even though it was a racist Alabama sheriff who prevented black people from registering to vote.

But when asked what advice Vivian would have given the Black Lives Matter protesters today, Bernice King was blunt: “Respect the power of strategy.”

“We don’t stop to strategize, organize, mobilize and strategize,” she said. King and Vivian knew that “the power of nonviolence is the most powerful weapon that any oppressed people can use,” but they also realized that people had to see success to believe in it.

“Dad understood that people were really tired and angry with what was going on, but we weren’t getting any wins,” she said. “He brought to this movement a strategy of nonviolence that brought people to victory,” first with the boycott ended segregation on the city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, and then to d ‘ other carefully planned acts of civil disobedience in the South.

“What we need now are victories,” she said, highlighting the conviction of Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. “It was a little piece. We need more victories.

Young, 89, also shared his fears, saying: “I’m probably more worried right now than I’ve ever been in my life.”

“I have never had so much anxiety about Congress, the presidency or the Supreme Court. Even during the movement, we thought we could trust John Kennedy. We knew Lyndon Johnson was a Southerner who understood the breed, ”Young said. “There has always been a very realistic approach to social change, and we have always been optimistic.”

Now, Young said, he prays that American democracy will overcome its challenges.

“I think we are all deeply concerned; I myself am very troubled, but not hopeless, “Bernice King added.” It’s part of the process of change and transformation, this friction is always going to happen. But there is always a critical mass that eventually emerges. “

“There is a God in this universe – that’s what brought the movement together – and it’s the same God that CT Vivian, John Lewis and everyone else believed,” she said. “They believed that if we persist, if we have hope, if we do the necessary work,” we will be successful.

King also referred to his late mother in an attempt to lighten up the conversation, saying, “Coretta Scott King told me that the darkest hour was just before dawn. The only thing I would have liked to ask him is how dark is it going to have to be?

Other speakers included CT Vivian’s son Al and Steve Fiffer, who wrote Vivian’s posthumously published memoir, “It’s in the Action.” CNN presenter Don Lemon moderated the panel.



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