On March 19, Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr., spoke at Cabin John Middle School. The event, called “An Evening with Martin Luther King III,” was organized by the Bells Mill Elementary School PTA.
King has followed in his father’s footsteps as a civil rights activist, global humanitarian, political leader, and author. His goal is to promote the fair and equitable treatment of all people both within the U.S. and abroad. He has been active for over two decades, coordinating peace in foreign countries, leading demonstrations against unjust labor practices, and pushing for effective legislation.
The event, which began at 7 pm, opened with a warm welcoming statement from Jerri Oglesby, principal of Bells Mill Elementary School, and Paulette Smith, principal of Cabin John Middle School. Next was a performance by the Scotland AME Zion Church chorus and a short speech by the church’s pastor, Adrienne V. Nelson II.
The Pierre-Louis family, who helped facilitate the event, introduced Martin Luther King III. “King has nearly unrivaled expertise when it comes to inspiring revolutionary transformations and implementing new strategies,” they said.
After a short video, Martin Luther King III stepped onstage.
His one-hour speech touched upon many topics, including his father’s legacy, his personal views on the racial divides of the modern world, and his experiences with advocacy.
King began by stressing the continuation of racial issues in modern day. He joked, “When you go to the criminal system looking for justice, all you find is ‘just us’,” reinforcing his point that the majority of our country’s prisoners are black.
Another significant theme from his speech was the role of government in distributing money and the importance of money being spent on the right things. He argued for increased spending on free healthcare and impoverished areas. “Money should be spent on liberty, not death and destruction,” he said.
As stated repeatedly throughout the night, one of King’s major goals in his humanitarian work is to promote the wellbeing of children. “Certainly a nation is judged by how it treats its most precious resource, and clearly our most precious resource is our children,” he said. He spoke about the activity he conducted with Bells Mill students earlier that day, when he listened to various students share their dreams, from preventing animal cruelty to stopping bullying. He encouraged the audience to support the dreams of their children.
At the end, he tied it back to the issues of race in modern America. He encouraged African-Americans to stand up for their rights and present their best faces to the world. “There is really no good reason for racism to exist. [America] can change. It only takes a few good women and men,” King said.
His words were received with many affirmations and “Amen”s from the audience. When he concluded his lecture, he was met with a standing ovation.
The event closed with more performances from the host schools, including a poetry reading and performances from Cabin John’s orchestra and chorus.
King has “taken up the torch lit by his father and continued the quest of equality and justice for all people,” said the Pierre-Louis family.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Grace Cheung of Richard Montgomery High School