“What does Black Lives Matter have in common with Donald Trump?”
That question left many confused in Brooks Gym Monday night, where Dr. Bernice A. King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, delivered Civility Month’s keynote speech.
King said that in different ways, both Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump have awakened us to the deep divisions that exist in our society.
Prior to King’s speech, SGA Secretary of State, Rana Elgazzar welcomed the crowd of ETSU students, faculty, staff and Johnson City community members and thanked them for being patient. The event started about 15 minutes late due to a large turnout.
ETSU President Brian Noland was not able to attend the event; therefore, Vice President for Health Affairs Wilsie Bishop introduced King.
King has followed in her father’s and mother’s footsteps of nonviolent activism, ministry and public speaking. She currently serves as the President and CEO of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. The center was opened by her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 1968.
In her speech, King said in order to bring unity, we have to build bridges, not walls. She urged for others to reach out to those who have different beliefs, even if they are extreme and hateful.
“People are still part of humanity even if they don’t act humane,” she said.
King spoke of the racial incident involving former freshman Tristan Rettke and a group of Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Borchuck Plaza last September. She said someone should reach out to the young man because, “it is irresponsible to leave people in their hate.”
She also quoted her father who said, “We have to find a way to live together as brothers or parish together as fools.”
King used the real life example of an African American man in Maryland who began attending Ku Klux Klan meetings in an effort to find a common ground as an example of building a bridge instead of a wall. The relationships the man made led to over 3o Klan members renouncing their robes and leaving the organization.
Once King’s speech came to a close, she did a quick Q&A session before taking time to sign copies of her book and take photos.
A full schedule of Civility Month events can be found on etsu.edu/sga/civility.php.