MLK III: 'We Have To Continue To Roll Up Our Sleeves'

Apr 25, 2013

Before his speech at Friends University on Friday, Martin Luther King accepts boutineer from Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams.
Credit Carla Eckels / KMUW

Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader, was the featured speaker Friday at Friends University in Wichita.

Throughout his career, King has worked to advance human rights in a non-violent society.

In front of a sold-out crowd, which included participants of Wichita's 1958 Dockum Drug Store sit-in, he told stories and shared remembrances of his famous father. The Atlanta-native was just 10 years old when  Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed.

King noted this year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where his father delivered the now famous "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.

“And you know Dad was not a dreamer, he was a doer, “ said King.

“If you look at most of the movements that have occurred since 1963, even '68, many of them got their orientation from the modern civil rights movement, the example of what my dad and his team did.”

But he said his father wasn't the only one.

“There were civil rights workers in this community, all over this nation,” said King. “I mean this state, significant as it relates to education."

King was referencing the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954 that made it unconstitutional to segregate students based on race.

He said some assumed the dream had been realized with the election of an African-American president. He understands the monumental significance of the achievement, but says that did not mean the "promised land" had been achieved.

King said his parents wanted to eradicate what his father called the "Triple E's": evil of poverty, evil of racism and the evil of militarism and violence. Reflecting on his recent trip to Tennessee, he said we've made strides in racism but we're not there yet.

“Why'd I say that? Because just a week before I arrived in Memphis on a Friday, the Ku Klux Klan was marching in downtown Memphis, Tenn., in 2013.”

“So we still have not overcome as it relates to race. Thank God we've made great strides though.”

King said 2013 will continue to be a significant year in the history of our nation and our planet.

“In August when people come to Washington from all around the world and they may say, 'Where are we in relationship to that dream of Martin Luther King's?' and I'll probably have to say we are making progress but we're not there yet. But we have to continue to roll up our sleeves so that we will become a better America, so we will become a better world.”

The multi-cultural panel that was part of this past weekend's events will meet again May 4 at the University Friends Church, 1840 W. University at 12pm. It is open to the public.