By Janel Shoun on 7/26/2011
See the Tennessean coverage of this event here.
“Changing the world doesn’t take a Martin Luther King; it takes an ordinary individual who wants to do extraordinary things,” Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., told the audience gathered in Allen Arena on Thursday, July 28.
King, a renowned international speaker, author and ordained minister like her father, spoke on the Lipscomb University campus as part of the Youth Life Foundation of Tennessee’s (YLFT) Women and Girls Benefit Luncheon. Lipscomb University’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program was a sponsor of the event, designed to raise funds for eight Youth Life Learning Centers, after school enrichment programs in Nashville, Memphis and Jacksonville, Fla.
With a staff of certified teachers and community volunteers, Youth Life provides educational support in academics, character development and service learning for children who live in inner city neighborhoods.
King, who recently launched “Be A King,” a movement to inspire generations to evaluate the way they think, act, live and lead, feels a close connection to the work of the Youth Life Foundation as she has served as a mentor to fifth-grade girls at an inner city Atlanta elementary school. Many girls just around that age attended the event to hear King, who was just five years old when she lost her father.
“For my Dad and his generation, the focus was strongly on the next generation,” King said in her speech. “As we look at society and all the issues overwhelming children, we have forgotten to prioritize the needs of youth above all others.
“We have to make a commitment in our personal lives to always think how does this affect young people and the next generation? If there are negative consequences, don’t do it.”
King also encouraged the audience to actively serve as role models for today’s youth, to listen to them, not judge them and to be genuine for them.
“The problems are easily solved by one person choosing to make a difference in the life of one child over and over again,” she said.
The Youth Life Women and Girls Benefit Luncheon also featured independent Christian music artist Beckah Shae as musical entertainment, Tennessee’s First Lady Crissy Haslam and Nashville’s First Lady Anne Davis.
The youngest child of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King began her speaking career when she addressed the United Nations in place of her mother at age 17. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN and BET, and has been featured in numerous magazines, including People, Ebony and Ladies Home Journal. She also received the “2009 Lifetime Achievement Advocate Award” from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. and was declared a "Woman of Strength and Courage" by American Legacy Magazine.
During her time working as a law clerk in the Fulton County (Ga.) Juvenile Court system,King realized that a growing number of teens have been double victims: first of society and secondly of an ineffective legal system based in retribution instead of rehabilitation. With a strong concern for community and family partnership, King has coordinated non-violent conflict resolution conferences for college and university students, coordinated women and family conferences and was instrumental in organizing coalitions to close a pornographic shop located within a mile of a local high school.