Racial Divide: MLK daughter Bernice King ‘struggling real bad’ with ‘white evangelical church’
Article By Sharnele Henry // EEW Magazine // Race & Social Justice Issues
Dr. Bernice King, youngest daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., admits she has an issue with some of her white Christian counterparts that seem complicit and comfortable with the racially divisive climate of the day.
“I’m struggling real bad as a minister, as a daughter of Dr. King, with my brothers and sisters in the white evangelical church,” she confessed Wednesday, Aug. 28.
The 56-year-old CEO of the King Center in Atlanta, GA opened up while hosting a "Beloved Community Talk,” a recorded and streamed dinner table discussion with invited out-of-town guests to encourage dialogue about biases against black men, particularly within the white community, in partnership with Proctor & Gamble and Civic Dinners.
Spanning a broad array of topics, near the end of the discussion, the civil rights leader, who is carrying on the work of her father, shifted her focus to white evangelical protestants shown by Pew Research to be the staunchest supporters of President Donald Trump, broadly branded a white supremacist and blatant racist.
“What’s the solution to moving the needle there, because they remind me—and I’m not saying every person who’s a part of the white evangelical church, so let me make that clear because we never want to do broad strokes,” King clarified, before adding, “but [there are] a good percentage who remind me of the same individuals that my father wrote to [in] the ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail.’”
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail” was written in 1963 while MLK, then leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was confined to a Birmingham city jail for his crusades against racial injustice. The missive responded directly to eight white clergymen who described his protests and demonstrations as "unwise and untimely."
Some of Dr. King’s greatest quotes have been lifted from this letter and repeated throughout history like: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”; “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”; and “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
More than 50 years after this letter was written, many white Christian leaders of today continue to call the fight against injustice unwise, untimely, and remarkably, even unbiblical.
“Some of them will applaud what’s happening right now, the divisiveness, the divisive language that comes from the White House,” said King to her guests.
The latest Pew research shows that she is speaking truth. Roughly seven-in-ten white evangelical Protestants (69%) say they approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president.
Noting that some “don’t care” about the topics raised during the roundtable centered on white privilege, implicit bias and harmful rhetoric, Dr. King said she does care, making it clear that her father’s dream of finding solutions to the issues that divide us lives on in her.
Guests for this discussion included: Dinner co-host, Sam Collier, “The Sam Collier Show”; Dana Barrett, “The Dana Barrett Show”; Pastor Daniel Hill, River City Community Church; Damon Jones, VP Procter & Gamble VP of Global Communications; Don McLaughlin, North Atlanta Church of Christ, Senior Minister; Sunni Patterson, spoken word poet and holistic healer; Jamil Smith, senior writer, Rolling Stone.