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Martin Luther King III shares father’s vision at BYU forum

By Sarah Harris - Herald Correspondent | Sep 28, 2021

Human rights activist Martin Luther King III speaks at a BYU forum at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)

The audience at the Marriott Center in Provo erupted in applause repeatedly as human rights activist Martin Luther King III spoke Tuesday at a Brigham Young University forum.

King, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was the first speaker in a BYU forum series on “Creating a Beloved Community.”

He shared his father’s vision of the “beloved community,” in which people of every race, religion and nationality live together in peace and harmony and work together for the common progress of humankind.

“The beloved community we seek is not a place, but a state of heart and mind, a spirit of hope and goodwill that transcends boundaries and embraces all creation,” King said.

Building the beloved community starts with the belief that “we are all brothers and sisters in the great human family,” according to King.

Human rights activist Martin Luther King III speaks at a BYU forum at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)

“We are all members of the same family because we are all children of the same God,” King said. “Our concept of family must transcend distinctions of race, religion, culture and even national boundaries.”

King said he believes as his father did that “love is the essential foundation of the beloved community.”

“Our challenge today is to embrace unconditional love and declare ourselves citizens of the beloved community,” King said. “We must affirm the sisterhood and brotherhood of all people — every race, every ethnic group, every religion, young and old, women and men, gay and lesbian, people with disabilities — every person.”

Anyone can become a leader by stepping up to make a better world, according to King.

“Sometimes I hear people complaining that they don’t make leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. anymore,” King said. “But instead of complaining, we can become leaders ourselves.”

Human rights activist Martin Luther King III speaks at a BYU forum at the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. (Courtesy BYU Photo)

King encouraged students to not only get the best education they can in their chosen fields but work on their inner strength.

“No matter what kind of job you get, you can be a leader,” King said. “You can do this by being a person who always stands up for that which is right.”

Service is an important responsibility within the beloved community, according to King. He quoted his father, who said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

“You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve,” King said, quoting his father. “You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love and you can be that servant.”

King invited all to, “work together in nonviolent movements for needed reforms,”and to  stand together in peace and not be distracted by fear.

“Let us come forward instead with a vibrant spirit of inclusiveness, and say no to racism, sexism, and all forms of bigotry and discrimination, and say yes to sisterhood and brotherhood of all humankind,” King said.

He urged young men and women to embrace a new definition of manhood and womanhood that emphasizes civic responsibility.

“A definition that says, ‘I don’t care how cool you are or how well you talk — what I want to know is, are you registered to vote?'” King said.

The speaker challenged BYU students to choose “the higher, more courageous calling of creative activism.”

“If we accept the challenge of creative leadership in the 21st century with courage and commitment, we will not only fulfill the dream of Martin Luther King Jr., we will set a radiant example of love and brotherhood that will prove irresistible to people all over the world,” King said.

The students’ leadership is “urgently needed to guide our world to a greater destiny,” according to King.

“Rise up and work for peace, dignity and human rights for all people in every nation,” King said.

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