The daughter of slain civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. said Thursday that people are misconstruing his quotation about riots.
In a “Tonight Show” interview about the mostly peaceful anti-racism protests across the nation, Bernice King told Jimmy Fallon that “people do take liberties with his quotes to fit their situations. And nothing is more frustrating for me than that.”
“If you’re gonna use his words, try to find the context of those words,” she admonished.
King, who serves as CEO of the King Center for Nonviolent Change, pointed to one MLK quote being widely repeated among the current unrest.
“When he talked about riots being the language of the unheard, he was not justifying and saying that he endorsed riots,” she said. “He was explaining where the riots were coming from.”
Indeed, the first part of MLK’s quote reads:
“Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met.”
Bernice King applauded the “nonviolent, peaceful” protesters for upholding the “true narrative” of justice while extremists were trying to steal the message.
The youngest child of MLK and Coretta Scott King also said her father’s “I Have A Dream” speech has been misinterpreted. Watch her explain above.