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MLK III Marks Anniversary Of ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech At San Diego Border Park

Martin Luther King III speaks at Border Field State Park in San Diego, Aug. 2...

Photo by Jade Hindmon

Above: Martin Luther King III speaks at Border Field State Park in San Diego, Aug. 28, 2018.

MLK III Marks Anniversary Of 'I Have A Dream' Speech At San Diego Border Park


Jade Hindmon, reporter, KPBS News

Martin Luther King III, human rights advocate and community activist


Martin Luther King III honored the 55th anniversary of his father's "I Have A Dream" speech with his own speech at Border Field State Park Tuesday. The idea came from his 10-year-old daughter.

A diverse nation with economic opportunity and justice for all are among the dreams that Martin Luther King III, a human rights advocate and community activist, is still hoping will be fulfilled in the United States.

Before his speech Tuesday honoring the 55th anniversary of his father's most famous address, the oldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. sat down with KPBS reporter Jade Hindmon for Midday Edition to talk about the strength of a diverse country, economic justice and what remains to be done.

Reported by Roland Lizarondo

Here is a transcript of that interview. It has been lightly edited for clarity.

Q: You're here to commemorate your father's 55th anniversary of that great March on Washington and the speech that he gave. Why here?

A: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, my father often said. And as we observed this 55th anniversary, my family thought it was important to continue to highlight the issue around children and families being separated, as well as a broader discussion around immigration and how this nation chooses to move forward. And I think that when we look at where we were in 1963, we were certainly a different nation, so today we are at a boiling point. So if we're angry on either side that's not the answer. I think my father showed us a vision of how we can treat all people with dignity and respect. And that's why it's important for us to be here today, to continue to raise a spotlight on this issue because we are better than the behavior we're exhibiting as a nation.

Q: And I want to touch on that some more. Why is it important to broaden that dream to to cover immigration and the issues happening today?

A: Some may argue with the position, but I personally know that diversity is what has made this nation a great nation. Every ethnic group that is here has made our nation an even better nation and diversity will continue to develop and make our nation one of the best nations on the face of the globe. It's not a segregated society. It is really an amalgamation of many cultures. And as I say, every culture has made this nation better. Therefore, again, it's important for us to embrace diversity. Now certainly we have to protect borders. We understand that we have (to handle) immigration policy (in) a responsible way for people to come into the country. But what we're doing today is irresponsible, it's unconscionable, and it should be unacceptable.

Jade Hindmon Talks With Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Granddaughter

Q: What do you think your father would think about the current state of America right now?

A: He would be very concerned about the division that exists because, again, division only creates more division. You cannot put out violence; only nonviolence can. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light. And so those are the kind of things that he would personify, that ultimately would help us, I believe, work through all of these issues and resolve them to help make America a better nation.

Q: Now, we've often heard in this climate that America has never been at this point before, particularly when we see families being separated at the border. Talk to me about that.

A: I don't know that anyone would have projected in 2012 or 2013 that we would be dealing with a situation where children and families were separated. And it's difficult to connect them back with their families. I mean, I just think that that's the difference. If you go back in history and look at how, when slavery existed, how families were divided, they are the same sentiments as it relates to that. But that was a totally different era — many, many, many years ago. So of course in 2018, I think the issue is we don't think anyone could have predicted that this would be the case. And also I know that we are better as a nation — we as people, as Americans — we are much better than the divisiveness that is being promoted and propagated throughout this nation.

Q: And do you think that the dream is reflected from the leadership at the White House right now?

A: Well, certainly, the leadership of the White House is not operating at its optimal level. In fact, it's operating at a destructive level. I mean, the president can do far better. I believe if dad were here, he would certainly be precipitating a non-violent crisis so that the nation would have to respond in a different way than it's responding today.

Q: And in chasing the dream, as I remember, it was economic justice. Where we at with that today? And what's the way we move on from now?

A: Well, I think that if we're talking about disparities and African-American households, as opposed to white households, unfortunately we haven't made much progress. So we've got a lot of work to do. Now, when you look at the spending power, the African-American community spent over a trillion dollars. So if somehow we could begin to pool some of those resources, then we could begin to address issues around housing, job creation, entrepreneurship. Those are the kind of things that have to happen to bring society more in line. And the final and most important thing is that the rich cannot continue to get richer and richer and the poor get poorer and poorer without something exploding in our society. None of us want to see an explosion. And so when 1 percent of the population makes or takes 60 percent of the wealth, that's remedy for disaster. We've got to find a way to create opportunities at lower levels because, in this nation and this world, I believe there's an abundance. I don't believe we embrace the abundance at this point. And so I'm not saying that everyone should be rich. What I am saying is everyone in the United States of America should be able to have decent education, should be able to have a decent job, should be able to have a decent home. A decent home doesn’t have to be a 5,000-square-foot home. We could be in a 500-square-foot home. But decent shelter is necessary. (We) should have healthcare and should have justice.

Q: Being here today, what's your message to the next generation?

A: My message to the next generation — and quite frankly, I'm so proud of the kids in Parkland who have mobilized in 70 cities around this country encouraging people to vote. I don't know (if) I need to give a challenge. What I would say is I am here to work with you in this quest to make our nation and our world a better place for all of God's children.

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