Martin Luther King Jr.'s Niece Speaks About Trayvon Martin
Les: I've read a little bit about what you've been saying since the verdict, and you believe that there are some people who are sort of ginning up some racial unrest.
King: In all fairness, however, I believe that we really have an unfair legal and justice system with so many African American men incarcerated in high numbers, all of that. I'm not delighted with our justice system, however the verdict itself, I have three adult children and I'm a former state legislature, so as we were watching the trial I said, "Oh my goodness, they going to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt." So that was the law and justice was served, however, really I serve God and I'm looking at this from a viewpoint of fairness and so there needed to be justice for Trayvon. His dream went to his grave with him. His parents have shown us wonderful dignity and strength and so I was very disturbed about that. So, I do agree that there should be some justice for Trayvon, but the form of that justice and what it takes should not be politically driven but it should be dealt by compassion and a desire to transform hearts in America.
Les: Can you just tell me who in particular do you think is exploiting this, if you will, and for what purpose?
King: Right now it’s politically driven. And you have people on both sides who have forgotten that a young man has been killed. Let’s take this moment to reconcile the human race. Not separate races though, not separate races, but the human race. And so anything that is going to incite violence is not a good thing, but something that will cause people to come together and say it was a terrible thing that happened to Trayvon. I believe his parents should be able to get something civilly, I really do and I think we should be praying for that because they've lost their son.
Les: Do believe there is some misguided anger out there?
King: I believe the anger is appropriate. I'm disappointed. I’m sad. I'm not angry, I'm grieving. And so when you take a young man, 17 years old, and you kill him, you murder him, and his dreams go to the grave with him. You don't know what Trayvon Martin could have been, who he could have been and I think that’s very, very tragic, and America does need to answer that question.
Les: You also, I believe, have said that you were not thrilled about this image of your uncle wearing this hoodie that someone had photoshopped. Why not?
King: Looking at the hoodie, and seeing the pain, the anguish, the need for justice, but no solutions. Martin Luther King Jr. brought us solutions of hope. You know, because especially African American men are hopeless, jobless and dreamless. Too many of our men are. So Martin Luther King Jr., being a man, would want to bring that kind of hope and resolution. And you know, in the 1940's and 50's, black men carried signs, and they said “I am a man! I am a man!” And do you know the statement "Hey Man!", and you shake hands as a black man? Well, the reason that that happened, black men used to be called “boy” by slave masters and things like that, and so they learned to say "Hey Man! Hey Man!" And so I'm not seeing the resolution that would bring the dignity, the hope and all of that in the hoodie picture. So I go to Martin Luther King Jr.'s words. When we use the words or the image of Martin Luther King, we want to think transformation, we want to think a new beginning, we want to think hope and promise. And so that’s what I'm looking for anytime I see the image of Martin Luther King Jr.