MLK’s daughter links father’s statue to conversation on Confederate symbols

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The family of Martin Luther King Jr., with Bernice King in the center, at Monday's ceremonies. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

During the hour-long ceremony leading to the unveiling of the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. at the state Capitol on Monday, many speakers, including Gov. Nathan Deal, spoke of King’s biography.

But it was left to Bernice King, the youngest of the four King siblings, to connect the installation of her father’s statue to the Charlottesville tragedy and the ensuing debate over Confederate imagery in the South and elsewhere.

Bernice King began by noting, as did others, that today is the 54th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader’s “I have a dream” speech in Washington D.C. She continued:

“Today, on the same day, although he is not physically present with us, he is present in spirit, and through the symbol of this statue.

“This statue, being unveiled today, I believe also provides a sense of hope to a nation that is in turmoil once again, as many people around this nation are removing and taking down Confederate monuments.

‘It is apropos that today in the state of Georgia, which was once a Confederate state, that we are erecting a statue – and we are unveiling a statue, more importantly – to a man who represents liberty, justice, freedom, righteousness and equality.

“In so doing, it is my hope and my prayer, that on this day, all across this nation, that conversations will begin of the appropriate way to represent this nation in our public spaces.”