Has the United States turned a corner on racism?
The son of Martin Luther King Jr reflects on what has and has not changed over the decades in race relations in the US.
In 1968, African American civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.
“Fifty-two years later, all over the streets of America, Blacks and whites and others are saying ‘Black lives matter’,” his son, Martin Luther King III tells The Bottom Line‘s Steve Clemons.
“We’re still saying to the nation ‘Treat us with dignity and respect and like the human beings that we are’.”
Although King believes there is a long way to go, he is also optimistic that “we may have turned a corner” in American race relations after the killing of George Floyd by police in May.
“We’ve had individuals marching in cities and towns for a few years now, but this one incident galvanised all 50 states … and all over the world, there have been demonstrations,” he says. “It’s almost like a light went off in the heads of people to say: ‘This is wrong. This is unjust. This is immoral. This is not who we are’.”
King says that one of the most difficult times for him recently was explaining the Floyd murder to his daughter, Yolanda Renee King, who turned 12 on the same day Floyd died, on May 25.
“She wanted to just throw something,” he says. “She was crying, and was just going through all kinds of things.”
King says his father dreamed of “making America what it ought to be,” and that for many Americans, President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ does not resonate.
“I don’t know the period in history where America was great. I think we have exhibited times and moments of greatness … but ‘great again’ harkens back to an era that I can’t relate to.”
He also weighs in on the argument to defund the police, the systemic racism of the US criminal justice system and what to expect from a president who has “no shame”.
In a heartfelt and personal interview for this week’s The Bottom Line, Martin Luther King III talks to Steve Clemons about what has changed – and what has not – over the decades in race relations in the United States.