Bernice King’s visit to UNCW makes impact on community members

Samantha Lavin | Editor-in-Chief

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Following in her parents’ footsteps, Bernice A. King spoke to an audience in UNC Wilmington’s Kenan Auditorium on Jan. 22, and brought up a multitude of topics inspired by her father Martin Luther King Jr.’s teachings.

King is the youngest child of civil rights activists Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Jr. She spoke in her mother’s place at the United Nations when she was 17 years old, and later, as an activist for her father’s nonviolent philosophy, became CEO of The King Center. She advocates for educating people on her late father’s views.

“There are numerous issues and challenges that we are faced with in our culture and in our society that we are trying our best to address, but we are doing it without the blueprint that Martin Luther King Jr. left for us,” said King during her speech.

Some of the issues discussed by King during her speech included the economy, gun violence, unconditional love for one another, her father’s nonviolence principles and creating equity among everyone in today’s society.

The Interim Director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center, Dr. Candace Thompson introduced King to the stage at the beginning of the event. Thompson is a spokesperson for the Upperman Center, and she provides support to students on campus.

“I want to be inspired to be called to action,” said Thompson in regards to King’s speech. “I want to feel as though I am in partnership with others of work to be done, and we need to do that together.”

King’s words inspired many listening to her speech in Kenan Hall. The issue raised the most was equality of all people and how to create this equity.  

“One of his [Martin Luther King Jr.] most profound quotes was that we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly,” said King, while speaking to the audience. “And I cannot be all that I ought to be until you are all that you ought to be, and you cannot be all that you can be until I am all that I ought to be.”

UNCW’s Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Kent Guion, concluded King’s presentation and thanked her for her performance. As part of Guion’s position on campus, he is a member of the chancellor’s cabinet.

“When Dr. King mentioned that her father was once considered the most hated man in America and years later would be revered as one of the most loved in the world, it brought home just how much change is possible and how the benefits and recognition may not be appreciated until decades later,” said Guion.  

Guion works toward a more inclusive campus. He works with members of the UNCW and Wilmington community to create the best leaders possible for our diverse global community.

“I believe a key take-away is that we all need to be actively engaged in creating our ideal community and that non-violence and unconditional love are fundamental tenants embedded in that process,” said Guion.   

King talked about many views that the community of Wilmington, and all other communities, should look toward for equity. Unconditional love and its importance for the survival of humans as a whole community was also a large focal point for her belief of equity in the speech.

“We are all interconnected and interrelated that I cannot look at myself separate and distinct from you, but that I have to look at myself as a part of the human family. As part of you,” said King during her speech.