- On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.
- He has a number of relatives – sons, daughters, and a grandchild – who have worked to continue his legacy.
- All four of his children have continued to be staunch advocates for civil rights.
- His only granddaughter, 10-year-old Yolanda Renee King, spoke at the 2018 March for Our Lives rally.
Civil rights leader and political activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs on August 28, 1963. He was assassinated in 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. We honour his legacy every year with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
But there are other ways people are honouring MLK’s legacy, and some of those people are his own relatives. All four of MLK’s children are civil rights activists and have worked to continue their father’s mission. Even Yolanda Renee King, the only granddaughter of MLK and Coretta Scott King, is on her way toward becoming an activist, and she’s only 10 years old.
Keep scrolling to learn more about members of MLK’s family who have worked to continue his legacy.
Coretta Scott King: widow
MLK and Coretta Scott King met while he was studying at Boston University and she at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The two were married in 1953, and after completing their studies, moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where King would serve as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
The couple engaged in civil rights activism throughout the ensuing decades, until MLK’s death in 1968. Coretta Scott King, however, went on to continue her activism for the rest of her life. She set up the King Centre for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, and “travelled throughout the world speaking out on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom” and much more, according to the King Centre’s website.
Martin Luther King III: son
The eldest son of MLK and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King III was born in 1957, making him only 11 years old at the time of his father’s death. But he set out to continue his father’s legacy. After graduating from Morehouse College in 1979, King III became an elected representative in Georgia.
He founded a nonprofit called Realising The Dream in 2006, which eventually merged with The King Centre. King III also received the Ramakrishna Bajaj Memorial Global Award “for outstanding contributions to the promotion of human rights” in 2010, and he continues to advocate for his father’s mission of non-violence.
Yolanda King: daughter
Yolanda King was MLK and Coretta Scott King’s first child, born in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. She was 13 years old at the time of her father’s passing, and she called him “my first buddy” and said she was “tremendously loved.”
King continued her father’s legacy as an actor and motivational speaker, advocating for equality and non-violence. According to The New York Times, King spent her life writing and producing plays and giving speeches to groups ranging from “elementary schoolchildren and Fortune 500 corporations.” She also acted in commercials, and the common thread of her work was to infuse it “with her family’s deeper purposes.”
She died in 2007 at the age of 51.
Dexter King: son
MLK’s second son, Dexter King, was born in 1961. On the 50th anniversary of his father’s passing, he told the Chicago Tribune, “That period, for me, is like yesterday. People say it’s been 50 years, but I’m living in step time. Forget what he did in terms of his service and commitment and contribution to humankind … I miss my dad.”
King has continued his own activism, but on a more quiet level compared to his siblings. He told the Tribune in 1997, “I am not someone who will be out there leading pickets. I am more of a behind-the-scenes motivator. That is what I do best. That is what I understand. I can call people at the highest level. My father did not have that luxury because he did not have access.”
Dexter King has also pursued a career in media and entertainment, appearing in films and television specials that have to do with the civil rights movement. King’s animated film about his father, “Our Friend Martin,” was nominated for an Emmy in 1999.
Reverend Bernice King: daughter
Reverend Bernice Albertine King was born in 1963, making her the youngest child of MLK and Coretta Scott King. During her father’s funeral, a photograph taken of King curled up on her mother’s lap became an iconic image.
King went on to pursue a career in ministry like her father, and she currently serves as the CEO of the King Centre in Atlanta. She continues to be an outspoken activist and advocate for civil rights.
King told the Washington Post in 2011 it was her mother who helped the King children understand the breadth of their father’s legacy. “She constantly taught us about service to humanity, and she would recite over and over again the scripture that my father taught us. ‘He who would be the greatest among you must be the servant.'”
Alveda King: niece
Alveda King is the niece of Martin Luther King Jr. and an activist. A proponent of the pro-life movement and supporter of President Trump, she was most recently nominated by the president to serve on theFrederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission honouring MLK’s work toward racial equity.
Yolanda Renee King: granddaughter
The only granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Yolanda Renee King is the daughter of MLK III and his wife, Arndrea Waters King. She was named after her late aunt, Yolanda King, who passed away in 2007.
Though she is only 10 years old, she is already making her mark as an activist. King made a surprise appearance at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., last year, speaking on behalf of her grandfather in regards to gun control.
“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character,” King said to the crowd at the rally. “I have a dream that enough is enough. And that this should be a gun-free world, period.”
- Read more:
- 21 of the most important human rights milestones in the last 100 years
- People hate Dodge Ram’s Super Bowl ad, which uses a Martin Luther King speech to sell trucks
- 34 things you probably didn’t know about Martin Luther King Jr.
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