Alveda King on the Capitol Protests: We Must Continue to Pray
“I went back to the Bible and to the words of my family,” says the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., “and I realized that we just must keep praying.”
After a dark day in our nation's capital that claimed the lives of 5 Americans and left much of the country in a state of fear, Alveda King spoke to the Register offering her reactions to the Capitol protests and riots that turned deadly Wednesday, Jan. 6. A violent mob forced their way into the U.S. Capitol Building while members of Congress worked to certify the 2020 election results. Dr. King speaks about the nation’s current state of civil unrest, her family’s legacy of nonviolence, and the need for prayer during this tumultuous time.
We are blessed to have Alveda King with us. She's the director of Civil Rights for the Unborn at Priests for Life. Also, of course, the niece of the late great Martin Luther King Jr. Good afternoon, Alveda. Thank you so much for your time today.
Good afternoon. Glad to join you.
We originally wanted to discuss the outcome of the Georgia runoff races. It's now known that the Democratic party will now control not only the House, but also the Senate. However, with the news yesterday, the Capitol being stormed by an angry mob while Congress worked to certify the 2020 election results. What was your first reaction to the news?
My very first reaction to the news. I did not journey to Washington, D.C., so I was not there “boots on the ground,” but I'm immediately thinking the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are mighty for pulling down strongholds. Now, I know for certain that among that crowd were many praying Christian warriors. Some went by bus and by other means so I know that there were people there on the ground, praying. People are frustrated, emotions are inflamed on both sides. We understand that. Somebody still has to be a voice of reason and a voice of sanity. I was raised by Baptist preachers. Martin Luther King, Sr., my granddaddy, my daddy, Rev A.D. King, and my uncle, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. They were preachers at Ebenezer Baptist Church during their lifetime. So I went back to the Bible and to the words of my family. And I realized that we just must keep praying. So that's what I immediately thought about when I saw the rioting and the anger.
I know the act of protest is very well known to you and your family. Your uncle mastered it in such a way that we still continue to learn from him. He once simply said, “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” And you know, your uncle was all about fighting injustice. We lose that moment once we turn to violence.
Absolutely. And so we cannot be violent or aggravated. People have asked me in the aftermath, well, do you think President Trump incited all of that? No, the people were already inflamed. The people have been upset for a long time on both sides. Tired, upset, frightened — not only by the elections, but COVID, street riots and all of that. Interestingly enough, there has been evidence that the group Antifa and other factions were on the ground too. So I would say that the actual violence is always incited by people who do not wish America well. And I'm sure that that faction was there also.
The country has been in a state of unrest for a while. This wasn't the first destructive mob moment we've seen in the last year. With all the wonderful work you do for the unborn, for advancing the dignity of each and every human person, where do you think we go from here?
Well, we are just continuing forward, for me, in the work of the Lord. Regardless of what humans are in the top seats of the government, the governance of the kingdom of heaven is more important. So I'm encouraging everyone to continue to pray, not to be moved or swayed emotionally, but to continue in things of the Lord. So whomever is in office …
And then there's going to be a mid-term election, not too far from now. We need to continue to look and examine and elect those folks that are, first, going to be focused on praying. People who believe in God make good leaders of nations when they really, really do and have the strength to stand firm in those convictions. And then certainly electing people who are for life — the civil right of life — it’s a right of life to be born. It’s a human right and a civil right not to be aborted. Certainly in matters of education, families should be able to be involved in choosing great education for their children, for example. People need to be able to work. We need a strong and healthy economy, not handouts from the government, but really a strong economy where we can work. And so we can't put that burden on elected any one person. We have to elect decent people who cannot be scared off or bought off — that’s very important. And yet as Christians, if we are Christians, we need to continue to pray. That's going to be very, very important.
Quickly turning to the Georgia runoff races, the two pro-life candidates there did lose. And one of the winners of that race is a praying man — he is a pastor — but he is also pro-abortion. What do you think the race means for the state of Georgia and also the country as we look to protect the most vulnerable.
We have an obligation to continue to remember — to remind those who are elected and who are seated in government offices to really represent all people, from the womb to the tomb. And that includes the pastor who has been elected who is pro-choice. I don't know if he ever really said he was personally for or against abortion, but that he would represent and make sure a woman has a right to choose to abort if she needs to. You can't serve the public and you can't serve your congregation by killing the public and by killing your congregation. So we would have an opportunity and an obligation to remind all of our elected officials that the little babies in the wombs are human beings. They are innocent human beings and their civil rights are violated when they are ripped apart or killed in the womb.
The pro-life movement has seemed to reach new heights, especially during the Trump administration. The first time a sitting president has addressed the March for Life just about a year ago, the work he did reinstating the Mexico City Policy, defunding Planned Parenthood — many things — can be credited to the Trump administration. As we look to the future here with a Biden and Harris presidency, what are your greatest concerns?
I don't really have any different concerns than I've had for any other administration. I was active in several administrations of presidents of the United States. I'm 70 years old now. And so my grandfather, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., supported Jimmy Carter, for example, and I had a chance to go to his inauguration and all those kinds of things. Even before that when President Reagan was president, I was a state legislator in the ’70s and ’80s, and I was a Democrat at the time. And when we move all the way through, I was an adviser as an independent to the Clinton administration on education. Under George W. Bush, I became a Frederick Douglas Republican, and I'm still a Frederick Douglas Republican today. I only went to the White House twice and prayed for President Obama and told him that I loved him. I didn't agree with his policies. And now with President Trump, I've been very active. I believe evangelist Billy Graham has been my greatest example of how to go into a White House and not think about the politics of what party the person is in, but to pray. Pray for the soul of the president, all the others who are elected that they'll receive Christ and then continue on if we're invited to advise, but we can all always pray whether we are invited into advise or not.
You know, that's so beautiful. Alveda, you are 70 years young, I will say. It's amazing what you still continue to do. And it is so true — regardless of who is in office — everyone is worthy of the love of Christ. And we must show that whenever we can and prayer is definitely so important these days.
I have a book called The Spirit of a Dream and talking about a dream and dreams becoming reality in Christ. As Executive Director of Civil Rights for the Unborn with Priests for Life, I fight for all human life and all human dignity, from the womb to the tomb.
Thank you so much for your work. You know, it was just over a year ago now you and I both were in Manhattan for the big display of Abby Johnson's ultrasound that took over Times Square.
That was so beautiful, that moment I will not forget it. And I've seen Abby since then we've shared platforms and that type of thing. So just life from the womb to the tomb. And I really want people to remember: I've had two abortions myself before I understood that I was violating the civil rights of little human beings. I had a miscarriage because my body was damaged by the abortions. And yet, there is always a better way to serve a woman, a baby, the father of the baby, the family and the community. There is always a better way than abortion. Always.
You know, and I remember at that event in New York, it was an amazing moment. And I remember you serenading the crowd with a beautiful song, and I still occasionally will think about you. I have the video of it. And I hear your voice in my head saying, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.”
Oh, “This Little Light of Mine.” And really … and I forgot to mention that I do have on EndAbortion.TV a pro-life show. And a lot of my music plays on Pro-Life Praise Variety Show as well. So yes, I do sing spontaneously when I'm with people. It's almost a natural thing to do because we can't all speak together at the same time necessarily, but we can all sing together. So that's true. I did sing, I remember now.
Alveda, with your wealth of wisdom, with your experience, with your family's legacy, with all the work you do, and understanding the civil unrest we are feeling right now, what advice do you have for Catholics listening today?
I would like to say to the listening audience: Continue in faith. Do not lose heart. When people don't agree with you, please don't get angry. Don't take it personally. Don't shut off and say, “Well, I'm through.” Don't give up. If things seem so bad and you say, “I'd rather be in heaven than be here,” no, stay here among those who are living and live for Jesus, live for life. And if you get sad a little bit, let God come — Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus, Our Father — and minister to your heart so that you can continue to shine. That's my word of encouragement. I have to do that every day, even when I have critical moments, when people don't agree with me. So be encouraged. In the words of my granddaddy, Daddy King, “Thank God for what you have left and keep looking up.”
Amen to that. Well, Alveda, thank you so, so much for your time and your words today. We keep you and your work in our prayers — advancing the civil rights of the unborn. God bless you and your family, especially in this new year.
God bless each and every one of you.