Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece is criticizing the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson for politicizing the Trayvon Martin shooting and leveraging racial tensions to rile up Americans.
Conservative activist Dr. Alveda King, now the director of African-American outreach at Priests for Life and the founder of King For America, said she hopes Sharpton and Jackson stop “stirring up the people without positive solutions” in Sanford, Fla., and elsewhere in the U.S.
“I would believe that, by stirring up all of the emotions and reactions, I wanted to encourage them to remember the man that they say that they followed, to remember that his message was nonviolence and very loving,” King told The Daily Caller, referencing her late uncle. She added that she wanted to encourage Jackson and Sharpton “to talk about nonviolence and not to incite people with that race card that they are very good at playing.”
“Nonviolence was a very important part of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,” she added. “So, we want to encourage people to be nonviolent in their responses, to be thorough in their research and that justice must be done…We want justice to come, but we want nonviolent responses to this really tragic and terrible incident.”
King hasn’t made up her mind about the facts of this case and who is responsible for what, but believes there should be a full investigation. She told TheDC that she agrees with former Republican presidential candidate and businessman Herman Cain, however, who has asked for a full investigation instead of “swirling rhetoric.”
“I believe that it should be thoroughly investigated,” she told TheDC. “I believe that it should be discovered whether there was undue force. If Trayvon did work to defend himself, he was not armed and so that is an unfair fight right there. Trayvon was not armed and the man who shot him was. So there is a possibility of undue force.” (RELATED: Full coverage of the Trayvon Martin shooting)
She said her heart goes out to Trayvon Martin’s family and she understands what they’re going through. “I’m very concerned about Trayvon’s family,” King said. “I’m praying as well, and many members of my family are as well… Several of us have experienced death of family members by shooting.”
“My grandmother, Mama King, Alberta Williams King, was shot in Ebenezer Baptist Church,” King continued. “My uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, was shot. And, then, my dad [Alfred Daniel Williams King] was killed the next year, drowned in a swimming pool. So, we are not unfamiliar with these kinds of shocks and tragedies to a family. And, so, my first thought is to pray for the family.”
King hopes Americans won’t continue to “hype this up so much to a point and make all this big demonstrations. Of course, there should be an outrage and there should be an outcry. But, remember: There are many other young people who are at risk and many young people getting killed in violent situations.”
She said if her father, A.D. King, and uncle, Martin Luther King Jr., were still alive today, they would handle this tragedy much differently from how Sharpton and Jackson have so far.
“I remember when our home was bombed, and my dad went out to the people and he said, ‘please don’t riot, please don’t react violently, my family and I are alright,’” King said. “’If you have to hit anybody, hit me. So please, I’d rather you be nonviolent and don’t strike out.’ So, my uncle would urge a call for justice but he would also urge nonviolence in responses. He would do that, I can assure you he would.”
Moving forward on this storyline, King said Americans “should be watchful for racial profiling, for stereotypical responses.”
“We also should urge people to know that we are one human race,” she said. “We’re not separate races. There’s only one human race.”
King said the news media — which she said was largely responsible for Martin’s story gaining a massive national following — should remember that there are many struggles being encountered by America’s youth.
“I would like for the media to be aware of how dire circumstances are and to be a little more compassionate in reporting and to be fair, of course,” King said. “To be honest and truthful, but to know that we’re dealing with some dire circumstances and this is not a one-time occurrence. There are issues involved here — certainly the racial issue is a question, but it’s not the only thing because we have violence against young people from those who are within their own racial communities and their own ethnic groups.”
King adds that racism still exists in America today, and the American people need to watch for it and fight back the way her uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr., taught. “This is the 21st century and we would all like to think racism is dead in America,” King said. “Actually, that’s not the case, still there are some racial issues that are out across this nation and so we have a responsibility as compassionate citizens of America, no matter what our ethnic group happens to be, to confront these issues when they arise. The best way to confront it is with God’s love, and if my uncle and my father were here today, they’d say that to you: ‘God’s love.'”