Martin Luther King’s daughter comes to Valencia College

By James Tutten / [email protected]

Daughter of acclaimed civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presented a speech titled “Raising the Standard” on Tuesday Jan. 24.Dr. Bernice A. King called for real, positive change in today’s society, and for everyone to see beyond her father’s acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech of 1963 and look at his work in the years that followed, with a focus on the severe economic issues that we still face today.

A representative from Orlando mayor Buddy Dyers office came on behalf of Dyer to speak after Kings speech. He announced that Jan. 24 will officially be recognized as “Dr. Bernice A. King Day” in the city of Orlando, and also awarded her with a ceremonial key to the city.

During the speech King quoted French poet and human rights activist Victor Hugo, who once said, “If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness.”

She used this quote to point out the complacency a majority of today’s society has toward the problems facing the world. The current generation needs to take action, said King, because as she sees it, this generation is not inheriting a better nation than the previous.

Though great strides have been made made toward justice and equality since the civil rights movement, said King, there is still much left to be done to ensure the stability of this nation through the prosperity of its people.

“The part of the darkness in our society is not because of those who perpetuate injustices and wrongdoings,” said King, “it’s because of the millions of us who are complacent, who refuse to get involved in changing our society for the better.”

King predicts a time like the turbulent 1960s, when, as a nation, citizens may have to go out and show their displeasure with the current state of America. With issues like the lack of health care, high unemployment, the foreclosure crises, a crumbling infrastructure of roads and bridges, and a general breakdown in the political arena, society is reaching a crossroad, according to King. These issues — as well as the global financial crisis — reflect a broken system of government that continues to worsen as problems are continually ignored.

Fighting the rise in apathy is part of what raising the standard is all about. Along with a focus on improving our educational standards and society in general, King called for society to rally together and strive to avoid the social and moral deterioration that threatens America today.

“Definitely a great message to spread, to get students more active in our education, and let them know that there are many important issues we need to address,” said Luis Cano, student government president at Valencia’s East Campus.

Throughout the speech King received several positive reactions from a focused and seemingly spell-bound audience. Numerous audience members could be heard comparing her strong, passionate, and focused church-revivalist-delivery style to that of her late, great father, who she also resembles physically. Many feel King is one of the strongest leaders for social change in this generation.

“I hope that students take away those central core values and character essentials that are so important to all of us as human beings, and certainly as citizens of this great nation,” said Falecia Williams, president of Valencia’s West Campus.