Throughout the years, especially within the last few decades, many questions have been raised about the viability of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the King family.

Pundits and laymen alike have all asked, “What have the Kings done for Black America lately?”

Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center and members of the King family have been tasked with keeping the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. alive. The Atlanta-based institution and existing members of the King family have a longstanding history of serving as a mouthpiece for the African American community.

In an effort to provide answers and understanding this historic organization against the backdrop of a 2019 Trump White House, one of the board members for The King Center and a member of the King family has come forward to give her perspective.   

Even though Alveda C. King is not an official spokesperson for The King Center, she is a member of the King family and a frequent visitor to the White House.

The eldest daughter of the Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams “A. D.” King and Naomi Barber-King, Alveda’s father was Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s younger brother.  

Isaac Newton Farris, son of Christine King Farris, and nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be seen in photos with President Trump at the White House.  Farris did not respond when asked for comments regarding this story.

The Atlanta Voice also contacted The King Center to inquire about its relationship with the Trump White House. In reply, a spokesperson sent the following: “Dr. (Bernice) King is not available at all this week. The King Center offices are closed until Monday, Jan. 28.”

Due to the government shutdown, historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and the iconic King’s birth home were closed as most of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta remains closed.

“This government shutdown has affected us even personally,” said Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center and the youngest daughter of Rev. King and his wife Coretta. “I cried and broke down in tears at our press conference earlier last week because I miss them. They are not just our colleagues in the work that we do, they are our friends.”  

For most of the 1960s, the late King and members of his inner circle — including his brother A.D. King — enjoyed access to the White House and kept working relationships with several U.S. presidents.

Martin Luther King Jr. worked with President Lyndon B. Johnson to draft and pass the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote.  

The duo also worked jointly to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a piece of federal legislation that prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Following King’s assassination, members of the King family, including his wife Coretta Scott King and their children—Martin Luther King III, Dexter King, Yolanda King, and Bernice King—have all liaised with U.S. Presidents, from George H.W. Bush to Barack Obama.

Alveda King offered 2019 interior insight into the relationship between the two clandestine organizations. She provided a look inside to clarify what’s really going on.

“There is a relationship with the Trump White House in that we are in communication during the Martin Luther King week in order to send a letter for the occasion and the event,” King said. “Simply by request from the King Center for a letter from the president in the years 2018 and 2019 for a letter for the souvenir booklet for the Martin Luther King holiday. At other times during the year, when The King Center became a national park, the center was acknowledged.”   

While America is experiencing the longest government shutdown ever, Alveda King said she remains a staunch supporter of the president.

“As an African American voice for justice, a defender of the sanctity of life, and perhaps most importantly a Christian evangelist, I stand with President Trump as he labors to build a wall,” she said. “From my perspective, compassion trumps terror. Our prayers are needed more than ever. We must rally around the wall to avert a crisis.”

Alveda King also shared some of the policies coming from the Trump administration she thought would be beneficial to the African-American community.

“When I immediately think about the things that benefit the African American community out of the Trump administration, I believe that the criminal justice reform does, the lower unemployment rates, are good for all Americans and that includes African Americans,”  she said.

Alveda King said she was excited about a new book project, titled, “We are not Color Blind.” In it, she states, “Our definition is not by our skin color, but by our worth as humans beings. We are created from one blood. I know that to be true. Martin Luther King, Jr. said we must learn to live together as brothers and I added sisters or perish together as fools. We are not separate races.  We are one human race.”

“I believe that higher job opportunities are good for the African American community. I believe that lower taxes for working Americans are good for every community including the African-American community, and I think assistance to the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are beneficial to the African-American community.”

Trump initially signaled that he may not implement a 25-year-old federal program that helps HBCUs finance construction projects on their campuses, suggesting that it may run afoul of the Constitution.  

Trump singled out the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Capital Financing Program as an example of provisions in the funding bill “that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender.”  

In essence, Trump suggested financing for historically black colleges was unconstitutional.  

Two days later, he issued out a second statement which stated, “The statement that accompanied my signing of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, sets forth my intention to spend the funds it appropriates, including the funds for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), consistently with my responsibilities under the Constitution. It does not affect my unwavering support for HBCUs and their critical educational missions.”

With all of the inconsistencies and flip-flopping coming out of the Trump administration, many African Americans have suggested that Trump and his Cabinet are not to be trusted. However, Dr. Alevda King still sees value in becoming informed about what’s going on beyond what people see in the news.

“I believe that the African American community, like many of the communities of America, rely simply on national news or social media for information,” Alveda King said. “If we rely only on what we hear on television or the radio or on social media we are not going to have enough information to understand what actually is being done and is not being done.

“That’s why when I talk to people about criminal justice reform, or lower unemployment, or higher job opportunities, lower taxes for working Americans, and assistance to black colleges, most people say I’m making it up,” she added.  

“I think that we have to be really informed on what is happening in the administration and what is coming forth from the administration,” she continued. “When we do, we may be able to say, ‘Oh, that may help me. That may help my family.’”

Another observation concerning the Trump administration has been the fact that there are not many African Americans working in the White House. Without a strong presence, who becomes the voice for African Americans within the administration.

“I am a part of a group called Mocha 45,” Dr. Alevda King said. “There are 45 official African American Trump appointees.”

“I’m actually one of them,” she continued. “Within the government itself, there are many African American employees. The numbers are small, but there’s a group called Mocha 45 and those are Trump appointees that meet and work with the White House and advise them regularly.”  

Some may look at the Mocha 45 and suggest that they’re only token positions, to which Dr. Alevda King replied, “Our positions are not token, and my relationship with the White House goes far beyond just a photo opp. I can’t speak for all 45 to answer whether they feel they are tokens or not, but I know I’m not one.”

Many Americans have doubts about the Trump administration and its performance within recent years, however, Alveda King maintains hopeful and offers her thoughts on what will be the outcome before the president leaves office.

“I believe we will see more men and women out of jail, reunited with their families,” she said. “I believe we will see more opportunities in our job market. I believe along the lines of the sanctity of life, there will be more opportunities to live successfully in America and to have children and make the children safe. All these kinds of things can be expected out of the Trump Administration.”  I do agree with President Trump. He says we don’t worship government, we worship God. She further states, “We must begin to move forward into 2019 in a very productive manner.”

Perhaps Dr. Bernice King offers the most poignant words for the Trump White House: “We’ve got to get this message out. It’s desperately needed now.  My father—before he was assassinated—talked about the need to study further and experiment with non-violence in every field of human conflict including a conflict between nations.”  

President Donald J. Trump, with Alveda King, center, niece of slain Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and joined by Isaac Newton Farris Jr., left, nephew of Dr. King, and Bruce Levell of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, right, signs the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park Act, Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, aboard Air Force One, in Atlanta, Ga. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.