In an impassioned speech on Jan. 12 in the spirit of her late father, Rev. Bernice A. King led a fervid Lehigh Country church audience through the causes and potential resolutions of racial tensions in America.
She cited aspects of the American educational system as contributors to the issue.
Bernice King brought over 800 people to shouts and standing ovations as she loudly proclaimed that racism remains a problem in today’s American culture.
She said that evidence of racial inequality can be found in the methods that American students are taught world history, which is typically from the Euro-centric perspective.
“If this were a society of true integration, all cultures would receive equal historical recognition. My [African] ancestors are brilliant people, inventors of things that we use today, and founders of the world’s first university,” King said.
King spoke of her many visits to American colleges and universities, saying that she disliked the fact that African studies programs and an African-American heritage month are necessary to ensure that minorities are given recognition.
“It is ridiculous that we need a month in our name to say that we’re here.”
King, who strongly favors the continuance of the program, also addressed the issue of affirmative action. She described it as a “band aid” that needs to be held in place until there is a reasonable remedy for racism, because some people still need to be “forced to do the right thing”.
As her observers absorbed her words, King gave advice as to how individual members of society can help to conquer remaining racism. King advised white audience members to “help achieve an understanding of racism by acting as though you are personally responsible for the suffering of blacks, even if the fault is not yours. Because, if you treat it like you caused it, then you can bring in some real healing.”
Next, King advised blacks “not to assume that just because someone is white, that they are a racist. And realize that not all of the setbacks that we face are a result of racism, and we should all think about how we might contribute to our problems.”
It was an evening of prayer, dance and song, as a community gathered in memory of the message of Martin Luther King, Jr. Bernice King took many opportunities to incorporate the life’s work of her father into her oratory.
“Racism does not exist in the same manner that it did in the days of my father,” she said, “But the segregation that was once posted on signs still remains in the hearts of many Americans. The issue of racism was a cause that my father was willing to give his life for.”
King suggested that Americans fight all inequality with the same intense passion.
“My father once said that if you haven’t found something worth dying for, you’re not living.”
Bernice King’s warm reception by an audience of mixed races, ages, and showed that Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight was certainly one of remarkable accomplishment.