Martin Luther King Jr. Honored By Daughter Reverend Bernice King

Martin Luther King Jr., America’s foremost civil rights leader, gave his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech in August, 1963. The Daily Mail reports that his daughter, Bernice King, has marked Martin Luther King Day by posting a photograph of herself alongside her father’s memorial in West Potomac Park in Washington DC, together with a moving message.

“Happy birthday dad, I miss you!”

In the photograph, she places her hand on the statue’s nose while laying her forehead on the memorial. Posting the tribute to her late father, the Reverend Bernice King signed off the post with the hashtag #MLK.

Right across the United States, Americans are preparing to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, which is marked by a federal holiday named Martin Luther King Day. It was under President Ronald Reagan in 1983 that this day became a national holiday, and today it’s observed on the Monday closest to King’s birthday.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an American Baptist minister and activist, and a popular leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Bernice King was born in Atlanta in 1963, just a few months after her famous father gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott King had four children: sons Martin and Dexter, daughter Yolanda, and Bernice, who is their youngest child.

Sadly, her father was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis just one week after her fifth birthday, and Bernice will be remembered by many Americans as the unhappy little girl hugging her mother at her father’s funeral. As an adult, Bernice became ordained in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, shying away from the spotlight. However, she gave the eulogy at her mother’s funeral in 2006, and in order to mark the 50th anniversary of her famous father’s “I Have a Dream” speech, she gave a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

Today, Bernice King is CEO of the King Centre in Atlanta which features numerous family photographs and artifacts: in fact, it’s described by many as a living memorial to her famous father, Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an eloquent speaker, and perhaps he’d be honored that Americans celebrate a national holiday in his memory. The New York Post reports that Americans are commemorating what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 88th birthday. As America’s foremost civil rights leader, it can only be assumed that King’s dreams have partly come true, since race is no longer the automatic barrier it once was. His children have lived to see an African-American president and, from Executive Board Rooms to Universities and Congress, black women and men sit in halls of power.

Perhaps America hasn’t quite yet reached the point where people are judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, but Americans have Doctor King to thank for the progress that’s been made. In just 13 short years King turned the tide of history before he was assassinated at the young age of just 39-years-old. Martin Luther King used persuasion, not coercion: he used nonviolence to force America to confront both its present and its past.

Today, Martin Luther King might be disillusioned that, despite much progress, public-school systems are failing students and many children of color fail to receive a quality education. In addition, many leaders of the movement he led are actively opposing efforts to resolve this problem with charter schools and the like, which, in the past, gave minority and poor students the opportunity to succeed in the classroom.

Martin Luther King faithfully believed in nonviolence, and it was his dream that, eventually, all Americans would have dignity and full equality. Today, Americans honor and celebrate the life of America’s greatest civil rights leader.

[Featured Image by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]