Bernice King, daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. expanded on her late father’s philosophy at Providence College Thursday night. King discussed her father’s legacy and current national divides.
King offered words of advice to young activists. Don’t get caught up in results, she told a large crowd of mostly students. Recognize that everything won’t change quickly.
Providence College has dealt publicly with racial tensions on its predominately white campus in recent years. Students and professors have said they faced discrimination at the school.
“There has been racial tension here, and I haven’t been pursuing it in the way that I should,” said Elise Parker, a Providence College senior, who is African American. “I’ve just been angry and ‘nothing’s going to change.’ But the fact that she said love is what I need to do and if they’re ignorant just let them know.”
“Loving somebody else because of their ignorance or their negativity, really just stuck out to me,” said fellow senior Ivy Barclay who said she’s been the target of racist rhetoric on campus. “How to do that? I haven’t figured out yet. None of us have, but Dr. King did and I know that we all will be able to one day.”
After her talk, Bernice King spoke with reporters, and offered this advice to people facing discrimination.
“In order to reach a person like that, you have to be open enough to hear them and connect with them, because if you approach them with ‘you’re wrong,’ they’re going to shut down,” King said.
She said she hopes students seize college as a special opportunity to fight bigotry.
“I think there’s a role that can be played by students and college campuses in particular, because that’s the place where we come and learn and share different ideas,” said King. “It’s that kind of atmosphere.”
King mentioned President Donald Trump only once during her talk, saying racism did not begin with the current administration. It was here at the country’s founding.
King spoke as part of a week of celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. at Providence College. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.