STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

MLK's daughter weighs in on her father's dream in a polarized America

Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest child sits in the CNN Red Chair to reflect on tragedy, fear and hope.

Posted: Jan 20, 2020 12:25 PM


Each year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day encourages Americans to come together and volunteer to improve their communities.

For some, this year's celebration is clouded by conflict, increasing racial division and deteriorating social circumstances. But the late civil rights leader's daughter Bernice King believes there is no better time to build community.

'The fierce urgency of now'

Bernice King also believes America needs his teaching more now than ever.

In "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" the last book written by King's father to be published in his lifetime, he wrote: "We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late."

"In this critical hour and contentious climate, not only in the United States but in the world, I believe that we need to pay attention to these words from my father," said King. "We cannot spiritually, relationally or globally afford to ignore the injustice and inhumanity and must work fervently to build the beloved community," she said.

King's 2020 vision

As CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, King preserves her father's legacy and promotes his philosophies of non-violence, justice and community. People are divided today because they are disconnected, something she believes her father would try to change, she said.

"Humanity engaging each other as a human family in our World House greatly depends on us understanding our interrelatedness and interconnectedness."

"As Daddy said, 'We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.' Our very survival hinges on us, recognizing this."

King believes that this recognition should lead to bolder actions like courageous conversations addressing the pain of racism and injustice.

"Truth is essential," she said.

"We really struggle with facing the truth of this nation's history and of the devastating, dehumanizing impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and the racism that persists today. So, we need to have some courageous conversations and some repentance as a nation."

"We have to understand the connection between peace, love, and justice. Once we understand this connection, we can begin to more strategically build the consciousness and the coalitions to change unjust systems and to correct hate."

Sustaining the dream

Asked if she felt her father's dream has been deferred, King noted the victories but said there's work to be done to sustain the gains.

"When we are not diligent and attentive, people with injustice in mind will, with great diligence and attention, destroy what's been built and try to reverse progress."

To King, now is not a time for apathy or complacency. It is time for positive action. "We have to understand my father's teachings and his work in a comprehensive way," she said.

"That will help us embrace the love ethic, but also be able to actualize love by treating each other with dignity and respect and in pursuit of true peace, which includes justice."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 207333

Reported Deaths: 2759
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40422614
Washington26826249
Marion23473324
Clackamas18967235
Lane13934165
Jackson11566146
Deschutes1004182
Umatilla861687
Linn563681
Yamhill478979
Klamath477878
Polk401356
Douglas390683
Josephine362372
Malheur362163
Benton327322
Jefferson237539
Coos217537
Columbia192629
Union150224
Wasco145530
Lincoln143721
Crook129423
Hood River121833
Morrow115716
Clatsop10609
Baker103015
Curry72511
Tillamook6604
Grant5527
Lake4688
Harney4359
Wallowa1945
Gilliam811
Sherman701
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3811723

Reported Deaths: 63424
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124816124461
Riverside3017994627
San Bernardino2993724873
San Diego2819363777
Orange2731285114
Santa Clara1201942193
Kern1108471405
Sacramento1079131737
Fresno1029961724
Alameda898191280
Ventura817271032
San Joaquin748081440
Contra Costa70818813
Stanislaus635581070
Tulare49808850
Monterey43842432
San Mateo42725581
San Francisco37287556
Santa Barbara34624455
Solano33797267
Merced32317481
Sonoma30974317
Imperial28880741
Placer23633300
Kings23209247
San Luis Obispo21448261
Madera16652245
Santa Cruz16246209
Marin14207230
Yolo14157212
Butte12662198
Shasta12616235
El Dorado10415117
Napa1002980
Sutter9672113
Yuba651951
San Benito611163
Lassen579925
Tehama573963
Nevada493275
Humboldt451449
Mendocino435150
Tuolumne421971
Amador374347
Lake356445
Glenn243527
Siskiyou239837
Colusa228818
Calaveras220956
Del Norte14658
Inyo143438
Mono12984
Plumas7376
Modoc5635
Mariposa4657
Trinity4246
Sierra1170
Alpine890
Unassigned340
Medford
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 80°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 55°
Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 80°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 80°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
60° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 60°
Dangerous heat wave through the weekend
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events