Bernice King Tells America: Reparations Are Warranted, My Father MLK Would Have Supported Them

Bernice King Tells America: Reparations Are Warranted, My Father MLK Would Have Supported Them


Bernice King, July 26, 2020, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

In recent years, the idea of reparations for descendants of slaves has sparked debates across the country. Dr. Bernice King, the youngest child of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., has voiced her support for reparations and believes they are not only “warranted” but also have the capacity to address various societal issues.

Dr. King is CEO of the King Center For Nonviolent Social Change, a National Historic Site dedicated to honoring the life and work of MLK.

During a recent interview with The Root, she said reparations could have a positive impact on education, wealth creation, healthcare, and environmental justice for the Black American community.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity and possibility there that could actually help to impact so many other areas,” she says. “Whether you’re talking about education, whether you’re talking about wealth creation… issues around health and the environment.”

She added that she feels her father would be behind reparations.

“I do believe that it’s warranted. I think it’s something that my father, without directly using the word, spoke to,” said King.

Approximately 68 percent of Americans and 80 percent of white Americans opposed reparations for descendants of slaves in a recent poll, according to Pew Research.

Michael Blake, founder of ATLAS, who was interviewed with Dr. King said the poll indicates that also a majority of white Americans are not in favor of Black people improving economically.

ATLAS develops partnerships between “multinational entities and communities of color, identifies talent at national conferences, and implements Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as social justice programs within organizations,” according to the organization’s website.

“Think about covid,” said Blake. “Americans were fine receiving stimulus checks. But yet, polling is negative about reparations. So that means that there’s a mindset of no, Black people shouldn’t be advanced economically, even though Black folk received stimulus checks as everyone else.”

Dr. King has spoken out for reparations in the past, having tweeted in 2021, “Reparations is a real, pressing need. And it is right and just. How can any leader in this nation earnestly call for unity and reconciliation concerning America and Black people without urgently committing to economic reparations?”

In an interview with Time about the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which her father led on Aug. 28 1963, Dr. King noted the Black Americans are still fighting for the same goals. The March on Washington was to demand an end to segregation, fair wages and economic justice, voting rights, education, and long overdue civil rights protections.

“We still face deeply entrenched racism as evidenced by the continual attacks on equality in voting, housing, income, banking, law enforcement, criminal justice, the environment, and the recent attacks around education related to affirmative action and [critical race theory],” Dr. Bernice King told Time.

Bernice King talks to reporters inside Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, the church her father, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., once led, July 26, 2020, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)