Martin Luther King III Shares Powerful Words with VAFF Audience
For the past many decades Martin Luther King III has been retracing the steps of his father while helping to spread the ideological movement that his father was only just beginning at the time of his tragic assassination on June 4, 1968. Last November, King III came to UVA to retrace yet another step and to share thoughts and inspiration to a university and a community still reeling from the events of August of 2017. Fifty-five years after Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Old Cabell Hall, his son stood on the same stage to meet with assembled media prior to his appearance at The Paramount Theater, where he would offer remarks following the Virginia Film Festival screening of Charlottesville. Produced by the UVA Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations (now known as VPM: Virginia's Home for Public Media), the film seeks to tell the story of those tragic days and to put them in their proper context by focusing both on the history of the issues at the center of it all, and on the local and national events that have followed. King III looked beyond race alone and towards the future as he sought to heal the many divides that continue to do great harm to our nation. "We have to find ways to inoculate young people," he said, "and eradicate racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia." The responsibility to help bring about this change, he said, rests with each and every one of us, pointing to then-recent events such as the violent attack on Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the murder of two black shoppers at a grocery store in Kentucky as evidence of the work that still needs to be done. "Our voice, our deeds, and indeed our lives should boldly affirm sisterhood and brotherhood and everyone's identity as children of God," King III told the crowd. The documentary, he said, did a good job of pulling the cover off and exposing the issues that we as a nation must confront, and he expressed hope that it would encourage others around the country to take up a conversation that is long past due in America. "Hopefully, the majority of Americans will say that we can do better, and we must find a way to address these issues. Now perhaps, once and for all, we can address it as a nation and as a society." The film offered the sold-out Paramount audience a stark, pull-no-punches view of what happened in Charlottesville, including never-before footage of scenes Center for Politics director Larry Sabato saw with his own eyes when the Unite the Right participants deviated from their original Friday night plan to march on Grounds. The film, Sabato said, will make some people uncomfortable, and that is OK with him. "You don't make it go away by ignoring it."