A Legacy of Fighting for Justice and Equality

Yael Eckstein  |  January 12, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Heschel march for equality and justice
(Courtesy of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati, OH)

Today, we’d like to share a portion of Yael’s Conversations with Yael podcast featuring a great friend of Israel and The Fellowship, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..

Listen to the entire podcast

YAEL ECKSTEIN:  This month we mark the birthday of a celebrated American, one who dedicated his life to fighting for justice and equality for African Americans and fighting against racism and injustice wherever it existed, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For me, the memory of this great man conjures up a famous photograph, which was taken in 1967 during a Civil Rights protest in Montgomery, Alabama, where Dr. King is flanked by a rabbi embracing a Torah scroll on one side and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a key partner in the Civil Rights Movement, on the other. There’s no better image which underscores the bond between all Bible believers and the necessity to stand together for our common beliefs.

And so, with this in mind, I am greatly honored and privileged to welcome to the podcast the niece of this great man and a champion and hero in her own right of her uncle’s legacy, Dr. Alveda King.


Dr. Alveda King on Growing Up in a Historic Family and a Historic Time

YAEL ECKSTEIN:  You speak with such conviction in a way that you know that you’re not just saying it but you’re living it. You have this deep in your heart, what I call the spiritual DNA. But I think for so many of us people of faith, there’s a specific instance — sometimes one or two stories or values of our parents or grandparents — that we can go back to in childhood and say, “this is what made me want to keep the faith. I saw this, I heard this, I remember this.” Are there any of those stories or characteristics that take you back to being a little kid living in this historic time, this historic family? Are there any stories you can share with us that put that deep faith in your heart that now, 65 years later, is alive and kicking?

DR. ALVEDA KING:  I can remember my dad, Reverend A. D. King, standing on a car in Birmingham, Alabama, after our home had been bombed. I think he had a megaphone at the time, it’s hard to remember that. But the people wanted to riot and throw rocks and turn cars over and everything. Our home had been bombed. I remember daddy standing on the car, saying, “Don’t riot, don’t hurt anyone. If you have to hurt somebody, hit me, but I would rather you go home and pray. I and my family are safe.” I remember a quote that my uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr., would say — I think it’s Amos — “let righteousness roll down like water and justice as a mighty stream.” I remember Daddy King, my grandfather, after all the tragedies in our family, saying thank God for what we have left. So, those are just some of the memories that I have. And as I grew through my younger years into adulthood, I became very strong in the Lord.

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Go-To Bible Verses

YAEL ECKSTEIN:  I’d love to hear a Bible verse that has been your go-to verse in life.

DR. ALVEDA KING:  I’ll have to give you two.

YAEL ECKSTEIN:  Thank you.

DR. ALVEDA KING:  My grandfather used this one. And when I was young, I didn’t understand it: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). Then the other is Psalm 127, the whole scripture, and I won’t quote all of it. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). The scripture starts in that manner. Then it goes on to say children are a gift from God and blessed are the parents bringing that seed, you know. So, Psalm 127 is one of my favorite scriptures.

YAEL ECKSTEIN:  Beautiful, Dr. King. Both of those I love as well.


Future Generations

YAEL ECKSTEIN: You and your family have continued to bring that message which is, “there’s hope for the future said the Lord.”

DR. ALVEDA KING:  Well, as you speak along those lines I’m thinking about Abraham, the Saints of Old, and they believed.


DR. ALVEDA KING:  The actually believed. Now, they couldn’t see all these hundreds and thousands of years later what it would be, but they believed. And I like to believe that my father, my grandfather, my uncle, grand momma, all of them who have already passed over and crossed over, they may not have seen what we’re seeing today. Certainly, not our troubles either but not our joys either.


DR. ALVEDA KING:  But they believed, therefore we can believe. And I tell people all the time, it used to be in every generation, the Bible says teach this to your children and your children’s children. And teach it in every generation. I even wrote a poem for generations to come and have drawn pictures about it. However, along with teaching it in every generation — and I’m still doing that with grandchildren now — we have to reteach truths every decade. If you wait three decades, that’s 30 years, and you go back and you try to ask people, do you remember when, they don’t remember when. So, these truths now must be taught and demonstrated in every decade.

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