By Julie Barber
Martin Luther King III appeared before a large audience at Missouri Western as the featured speaker for the 24th R. Dan Boulware Convocation on Sept. 12.
King, the oldest son of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, has dedicated his life to continuing his father’s legacy as an American human rights advocate and community activist.
The event began with Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian introducing the founder of the Convocation.
“I’m happy to say that I’ve been at ten of those 24 Convocations, and I will be introducing someone who’s been the force behind all 24 of those Convocations, Dan Boulware,” Vartabedian said.
King’s speech was on the topic of “Embracing the Ideals of Freedom, Justice, and Equality,” focusing primarily on current issues regarding American unity, police violence, and hate crimes, issues Boulware considered to be relevant to today.
King took the stage and began his speech with the topic of intolerance and violence present in America today.“I believe that the overwhelming majority of Americans really do embrace the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality.”
“I believe that the overwhelming majority of Americans really do embrace the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality,” King said.
Regarding the white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, King commented, “The number of Americans who commit hate-motivated violence is very small in comparison. Sometimes they get a lot more media coverage, certainly more than they deserve, which amplifies their effect.”
Halfway through his speech, King claimed that teaching the younger generations to combat violence with non-violence is the best way to end hate crimes and intolerance.
King also expressed his faith in the American spirit after seeing how the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey and Irma put a hold on today’s negative conflicts and brought Americans together.
“The human spirit has a desire to make a difference and help, that’s how I know America really is great,” he said.
The issue of police brutality was also addressed, for which King received a powerful round of applause when he stated, “I am convinced that most policemen and women are decent, dedicated public servants who risk their lives to protect citizens of all races.”
King mentioned that he is often asked what his father would have thought about today’s police violence against people of color, and King “[doubts] that he would’ve been surprised that more than half a century later it’s still a major problem.”
King believes that improving police recruitment, law enforcement training, and introducing racial sensitivity training can help prevent police brutality. He also believes that more diversity within law enforcement could be a solution as well.
As King came to the end of his speech, he encouraged people to do good for their communities and for their fellow Americans, that participating is the strongest way to get through today’s challenges, to which he quoted American educator Horace Mann, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
The convocation ended with enthusiastic applause and Boulware commemorating King for continuing his father’s legacy.
“We have a saying here in the Midwest about the acorn not falling far from the tree, and Martin, your acorn did not fall far,” Boulware said.
William Church, Missouri Western Faculty Senate President, enjoyed King’s speech.
“I appreciated the presence and shared words of someone whose very name brings to mind the quest for justice, equality, courage, and the power of nonviolent actions,” Church said.