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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Granddaughter Leads Chant at March For Our Lives Almost 50 Years After MLK’s Death

The March For Our Lives this weekend gathered reportedly 850,000 people calling for an end to gun violence in America. While a truly landmark moment that we greatly attribute to the political action and determination of the Parkland teenagers, it is important to recognize how multifaceted this issue is from school shootings to police brutality to domestic violence—a fact that was emphasized at the March by women of color and students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well.

The speech given by Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King,  was a reminder of how the March For Our Lives and these protests owe to the Civil Rights Movement. (I want to pause to note that there is, of course, a complicated history around the Civil Rights Movement and guns, e.g. the Mulford Act, that’ll have to be the subject of a different article. The point here, is that we should recognize the ways in which that fight for progress is one that carries over to future generations.)

MLK, like many who fought or marched beside him, was assassinated. He was shot on April 4th, 1968. In a little over a week, it’ll be the 50th anniversary of his death. In her speech, Yolanda Renee King invokes the language of his “I Have a Dream” speech. Specifically she builds from, when MLK said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

At the stage on Saturday, King was introduced by Jaclyn Corin. She said:

“My grandfather had a dream that his four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream that enough is enough, and this should be a gun-free world, period.”

She then lead a chant and the crowd joined, yelling, “Spread the word. Have you heard? All across the nation. We are going to be a great generation!”

The Civil Rights Movement was present at the March, as Representative John Lewis attended and gave a speech saying he’s proud to wear the “F” rating given to him by the NRA. “I can flunk out of the NRA university over and over again,” said Lewis, who also stated, “We are never too young, we are never too old to march. To speak up, to speak out.”

When we see Lewis now, it’s not always obvious to us that he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington at 23—his lifetime of protest is nothing short of overwhelmingly inspiration. Watching the March, seeing Lewis and the young granddaughter of MLK both speak against gun violence at Washington, felt like a powerful moment.

At 23, Lewis spoke of the “constant fear of a police state”, those “who face the death penalty for engaging in peaceful protest” and other kinds of assault at the hands of the government. He ended his speech in 1963 with the words, “We must say: ‘Wake up America!  Wake up!’ For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient.”

(via Buzzfeed, image: screencap)

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