“I have decided to stick with love; hate is too great a burden to bear” – Niece Remembers MLK

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We were also taught that forgiveness must be bestowed willingly, freely and without conditions. Those were lessons we fell back on many times as we were called on to forgive, publicly and sincerely, the most heinous of crimes.

People often ask what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would say today. No need to second guess. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” 

Surely, the violence at the U.S. Capitol would have broken his heart, as would the partisan witch hunts that seem to multiply daily.  

“We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself,” he once said. “We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”  

y earliest memory of my uncle was his marriage to Coretta. I was the flower girl at the wedding, which took place on the lawn of my aunt’s parent’s house in Marion, Ala., in June 1953. I was almost 3 years old. My early memories were just like snapshots, yet I knew even then that I was a member of a family whose faith in God was the driving force.

My granddaddy, Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., and my grandmother, Alberta Williams King, instilled in their three children, Christine, Martin and Alfred, that the King Family Legacy is one established by God, in faith, hope and love. It was that faith, that deep and consequential love of God, that brought my family to a level of leadership of the 20th-century civil rights movement. 

“Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism,” Uncle ML said. “It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.” 

We were also taught that forgiveness must be bestowed willingly, freely and without conditions. Those were lessons we fell back on many times as we were called on to forgive, publicly and sincerely, the most heinous of crimes. 

It’s true we lived in the spotlight, and many of the civil rights leaders passed through our homes on a regular basis during their journey. Yet, in many ways, we were just a normal family. My daddy, Rev. A.D. King, would wrestle with his older brother, Uncle ML, while the family chuckled in the background. They were playful and joyful and growing up around them was a lot of fun.

When Uncle ML was assassinated in 1968, I was 17 years old and in the restive way of teenagers, I wanted to blame all White people. I wanted to give hate room to grow in my heart. But my mother and father and my grandparents and Uncle ML reminded all of us that hate only begets more hate, and there should not be room in the world for animosity or mistrust or hostility.

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