MLK III speech continues legacy

by Vadim Lavrusik

Activism for equality didn’t die with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

It didn’t die with Coretta Scott King earlier this month.

Activism lives on through their son Martin Luther King III.

As King addressed an audience of University students and faculty members Monday night in Coffman Union Great Hall, he showed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

In his first visit to the University, King gave a lecture titled “My Father’s Dream, My Mission.”

Miski Noor, president of the Black Student Union who introduced King, said that having King speak was extremely important to the celebration of Black History Month at the University.

“His father is a legend and getting to talk to (his son) is kind of a way for us to get closer to the legend of Martin Luther King Jr.” Noor said.

Noor and the BSU helped promote the event and shared co-sponsorship with Minnesota Programs and Activities Council, Alpha Phi Alpha, the fraternity King Jr. was a member of, and the Al-Madinah Cultural Center.

Jeff Tomczek, forum committee co-chairman of MPAC, who booked King to speak earlier this month, said the event was scheduled for Feb. 7 but was postponed because of the death of King’s mother.

“The relevancy of having him here on campus after the passing of his mother is rather timely,” Tomczek said.

Tomczek said he thinks it is important for students, especially in the Midwest, to hear the message of King, that his father’s “dream” still is relevant today.

“Hopefully this will be the first step of Martin Luther King III taking on his family’s legacy, the way his father originally carried the message, and his mother, and now he’s the main advocate within the family to carry on that message,” Tomczek said.

Political science and Spanish junior Golnaz Vayghan said she came to the event because “racism continues to bleed our society.”

“Why wouldn’t I come?” Vayghan asked.

His mission

“In essence my mission is to continue what (my father) started,” King said.

King’s mission is focused around the idea of his father’s last campaign of economic equality and encouraging nonviolence.

King also addressed the issue of racism on a predominantly white campus.

“There is a sensitivity that has been lost (toward racism),” King said. “The first thing to fixing the problem is acknowledging there is a problem, people have to want to fix it.”

King, who disagreed with the war in Iraq said, “Our occupation in Iraq is creating more terrorists.”

Summarizing his mission, King said, “We still have a long way to go.”

Following in his father’s footsteps

While addressing the issue of racism today, King said, “One day we can all be considered Americans, not African American, Asian American, Latin American, and so on,” reminiscent of his father’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

King, who has a degree in political science from Morehouse College, the same school his father attended, has been serving and advocating for the black community.

In the 1980s, King was incarcerated for protesting injustices in South Africa and advocating the release of Nelson Mandela. He has also spoken to the United Nations on behalf of individuals struggling to live with AIDS.

King served as commissioner of Fulton County, Ga., from 1987 to 1993 and in 1997, he was unanimously elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization co-founded by his father in 1957, whose goal is to fight for civil rights in the south.

In 2001 King was temporarily suspended from his duties at the organization by chairman Claud Young, who cited him with absence from his office and irregular communication.

In January 2004, King left the organization to take over The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change from his younger brother, Dexter Scott King, where he currently serves as president and chief executive.