Bernice Albertine King was born on March 28, 1963 in Atlanta, Georgia to civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. As the youngest of their five children, she was only five years old when her father was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Although her life had frequently been marked by the tragic loss of loved ones, her steady march towards meeting her calling to honor the legacy of her parents has never taken the back seat. Bernice was only seventeen years old when she was invited to speak at the United Nations. She spoke as recently as March 25, 2015 to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of her father’s participation in the Selma march.
Bernice delivered part of her father’s historic speech at the Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. Marchers walked from St. Jude to the Capitol as an act to re-create the final part of the Voting Rights March that occurred 50 years ago. Most of the people in attendance agreed that she sounded more and more like her father as she delivered the words that pushed the world towards change. Never has the change been more evident than witnessing a hug being exchanged between Bernice and Peggy Wallace-Kennedy, the daughter of former Alabama Governor George Wallace.
The fact that she was the daughter of the great champion of equal rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., this may perhaps seem like it would be second nature to continue the mission from where her father left off. The problem with that assumption was her incredibly young age, when he was killed. It took her years to comprehend who he was and also to reconcile the loss of him. The pain of becoming fatherless so early on propelled her into mentoring young ladies who had been likewise denied the fruits of a father/daughter relationship.
The deaths of her mother in 2006 and only sister Yolanda in 2007 marked a turning point for Bernice. She decided to embrace the calling openly for her life and begin to do everything possible to bring a new dream to a new generation. She donated over $100,000 of her personal funds to New Birth Missionary Church for scholarships. Later, she spoke at the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to reach out to all the youth of this nation, subsequently, became her hallmark and passion.
The King Center hosted a women’s empowerment evening on March 28, 2014, in honor of Bernice’s 51st birthday. Bernice confirmed that a special screening of the documentary “Girls Rising” was shown as a “design to educate, empower, and inspire all young women to confront and overcome the obstacles they may face during their struggles to fulfill their dreams and impact the global community.” She has opted to plant the seeds of change in a new generation through self-awareness and empowerment.
Bernice King expressed in her youth that she would love to be the first woman president of the United States. Those are the kind of dreams her parents made possible through their dedication and personal sacrifices. She has proven over and over again that no matter how tough the road may be, all things are possible!