Dr. Bernice King tells Press Club: “Rise above anger and animus”

Dr. Bernice King addresses the Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon and Issues Forum (photo by Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire).

Dr. Bernice King addresses the Stateswomen for Justice Luncheon and Issues Forum (photo by Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire).

(TriceEdneyWire.com) — Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, at the close of Women’s History Month, electrified an audience of men and women at the National Press Club, challenging them to rise above bickering with people with whom they may have political and cultural disagreements and find common ground, including with President Donald Trump.

In a speech she called, ‘What Does the Black Lives Matter Movement and Trump Have in Common?’, she focused on the reality of the anger and animus on one side and the disgust, concern and fear of Trump on the other. She said the way to move forward from to the vilification hurled from both sides is to find common ground.

“We need people to rise above it and engage in conversation, real conversation,” she said. “We’re not hearing each other right now because we’re not listening. We’re trying to react to what is said. We have to realize that that individual (with whom we disagree) is still of value. We have to win over people. The next generation is watching us for cues.

“We must listen and hear even though we don’t want to,” she said. “We should not be drawing the line, un-friending people on Facebook, disconnecting links on LinkedIn or dragging them on Twitter. We must resist separation in the face of difference. We must love unconditionally.”

Chief executive officer at the King Center in Atlanta, Dr. King was keynote speaker at the 7th annual Stateswoman for Justice Luncheon and Issues Forum, sponsored by the Trice Edney News Wire. The event, also in celebration of the 190th anniversary of the Black Press, drew about 200 men and women to the Press Club even in chilly, rainy weather.

Women and men applaud as Dr. Barbara Reynolds expresses disdain at the way Black women are treated (photo by Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire).

Women and men applaud as Dr. Barbara Reynolds expresses disdain at the way Black women are treated (photo by Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire).

The youngest daughter of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King caused a stir and murmurs in the crowd as she prefaced her remarks by warning the packed ballroom that her comments about Black Lives Matter and Trump might cause some discomfort.

“Now I’m going to say some things that might be a little different and controversial,” she said with a wry smile.

“I’m pushing the envelope. What do they have in common? They have awakened in us deep down divisions that in many respects we have tried to avoid, ignore, deny. I don’t know about you, but I’m very concerned about that.”

The Spelman College graduate who has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Law from Emory University, went on to say that “there’s a deep polarization that exists in our nation and in fact, it’s potentially getting worse. Dr. King tried to teach us how to live in a world and co-exist with all of these different ideologies. What he left is an important blueprint that we cannot escape if you’re going to create a just, equitable world. He gave us plans and a strategy: chaos or community.”

She offered Black Americans four policy and moral prescriptions they should pursue if they hope to achieve the justice and equality for which her father fought and died:
1) The Black community must be willing to value and embrace all of the community and all aspects of justice.
2) They and others must realize that we’re all in the same boat, that justice can’t be narrow and one-sided.
3) There is a great need for people who’re working to forge an agency for justice and who value long-term strategic planning in that area.

Lastly, she said the community needs people who value building the “beloved community.”

King’s remarks magnified the growing racial, social and cultural divide that has been exacerbated by a vitriolic presidential campaign, Trump’s naked appeals to race and his masterful stoking of racial fears. Sensing the anxiety and feeling of disenfranchisement White voters carried, he spoke to their anger and their belief that Washington, African Americans, Latinos and immigrants had conspired against their interests.