Christian Pastors Not Doing Enough For Racial Justice In America, MLK's Daughter Says

Bernice King
Bernice King |

Martin Luther King Jr.'s youngest daughter, Bernice, raised in an interview that Christian Pastors are not doing enough for racial justice in the United States.

The American Magazine said Bernice King guested on the "The Gloria Purvis Podcast" recently and discussed how racist incidents have been responded to by White Christians. King also spoke on the concept of "colorblindness" and the Biblical roots of "nonviolent resistance."

Purvis began the podcast asking King on how she found American Christians' response to racial justice, particularly to that of George Floyd's.

"How would you say Christian communities-all of us Catholics, evangelicals, Protestants-in the United States responded to the murder of George Floyd and the movement for racial justice since 2020?" Purvis said.

King responded by acknowledging the involvement of American Christians in social justice initiatives though she pointed out that it is still not enough. She disclosed that she looks forward to something similar to that of the 50's and 60's.

"Although I recognize that there are pastors and congregations across our nation who are involved in social justice work, I don't think we've seen the likes of what my father lived in the '50s and '60s, where there were a number of pastors who coordinated and collaborated to attack segregation in the South," King responded.

"I long for the day when we see a revival of what we saw in the '50s and '60s. And I'm not sure how that happens. But I know that it is necessary because I believe that there have to be people at the forefront who understand the importance of the power of God in tackling and attacking these evils and injustices that we are faced with," she added.

King, who is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, also highlighted that people have not done enough to help those impacted by racism since it is something she says is "institutionalized."

"I don't think we have done a great job of helping (those in) the world who feel like they're not impacted by racism to fully understand what it is. For some people, it is those ugly one-off acts. But for many of us, we understand it to be a much more complex systemic, institutionalized practice that has outcomes that greatly impact communities of color, especially the Black community," King responded.

"You can't put your hands on that if you don't live it or you're not constantly exposed to it through some form of education or awareness campaign. So we have a lot of work to do, those of us who are conscious of what racism is," she stressed.

On the misuse of "colorblindness," King clarified that the word signifies the desire of each American to live in "equity and equality" such "that a person's skin color would not be a definer of access." However, people have taken this out of context and pointed to her father's book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community," regarding obedience to "the unenforceable" such the laws taught in the Bible that should be "etched in our hearts" so that "we behave differently."

She pointed out that change would only be feasible this way. Making too many assumptions on others is not only unfair and unjust. Actions, as stressed by her father, should be done for "justice" and not out of a competition to those who are White or of other race and color.

Purvis asked King as to what kind of thing has to happen so that people would understand that Floyd and Derek Chauvin were "a child of God made in God's image and likeness and worthy of dignity and respect." King responded by saying,

"Start from the outside in, by literally putting you in the shoes of these different scenarios. Put yourself in the shoes of George Floyd that day and process that in your psyche. You're going to come across different thoughts that will emerge, and you'll have to do an audit of all of these thoughts and ask critical questions. Is George any different than I am? How would I want to be treated if I was in those shoes?"