Inside the entrance of TIME’s Honoring the March: An Impact Family Dinner in Atlanta, Georgia, hung a large image of TIME’s 2013 Martin Luther King Jr. cover that bears the phrases: “Founding Father” and “Architect of the Twenty First Century.”
Dr. Bernice A. King, the youngest child of King and CEO of nonprofit The King Center, noted these descriptions during her speech at the TIME event in partnership with American Family Insurance commemorating the 60-year anniversary of her father’s historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
“I was particularly captivated by both the caption and sub-caption which associated my father with time periods he did not live in,” Dr. King said. The nation was founded two centuries before Martin Luther King Jr. was born, and the 21st century began 32 years after he was assassinated. “I was intrigued by this identification of my father because it affirmed that his message and teachings around human dignity, freedom, justice and equality are transcendent,” Dr. King said to the more than 100 attendees at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights on Thursday evening.
Decades since her father’s fight for social change, Dr. King identified injustices that remain prevalent in the U.S.: “We still face deeply entrenched racism as evidenced by the continual attacks on equality in voting, housing, income, banking, law enforcement, criminal justice, the environment, and the recent attacks around education related to affirmative action and [critical race theory].”
And yet, her father’s legacy, she said, continues to be a reference point for how to move forward: “My father’s message not only gives us hope, but his nonviolent teachings provide the blueprint for building the beloved community, where injustice ceases and love prevails.”
Below is a full transcript of Dr. King’s speech:
Good evening. Ten years ago, in honor of the 50th Anniversary of my father’s “I Have A Dream'' speech, TIME published a special edition with an image of him on the cover. I think you’ve seen it over there. I was particularly captivated by both the caption and subcaption which associated my father with time periods he did not live in. The caption read, “Founding Father, which was two centuries before my father was born and the sub-caption read, “Architect of the Twenty First Century; a century which he was thirty-two years shy of living in due to him being assassinated.
Of course, I was intrigued by this identification of my father because it affirmed that his message and teachings around human dignity, freedom, justice and equality are transcendent. The vision, strategy and values that he espoused are timeless and speak to generations of people who hope for and work toward a day when we truly live together as brothers and sisters in this world. His galvanizing words are instructive and continue to give us hope sixty years later, as injustice and inequality continue to persist causing the marginalization of many communities, especially the Black community as evident in the numerous racial disparities.
This hope is essential, because in spite of the progress we’ve made since the March on Washington, I Have A Dream, the civil rights, voting rights, and fair housing acts, we still face deeply entrenched racism as evidenced by the continual attacks on equality in voting, housing, income, banking, law enforcement, criminal justice, the environment, and the recent attacks around education related to affirmative action and CRT.
My mother reminds us that, “struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won. You earn it and win it in every generation.” Hope, my brothers and sisters, is what fuels the struggle. And with this hope, it is imperative that we keep the struggle for genuine equality alive, so that my father’s dream of true brother and sisterhood becomes our reality.
But as he instructed in I Have A Dream, “we must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” And so as “the architect of this twenty-first century,” my father’s message not only gives us hope, but his nonviolent teachings provide the blueprint for building the beloved community, where injustice ceases and love prevails.
The fierce urgency of now is upon each and everyone of us, so join me on the journey as I seek to infuse a new generation of changemakers with the love and power of nonviolence to transform our current climate of chaos into the beloved community.
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