Live from Music Row, Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., Alveda King to the newsmaker line to reflect upon her uncle’s influence growing up and continuing the dream.
Leahy: We are joined on a newsmaker line right now by Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. Good morning, Alveda. How are you?
King: Good morning! It’s wonderful to join you. A busy day for me. I apologize, but we can talk for a little while. Thank you.
Leahy: Thank you for making the time available to us. Tell us your favorite memory of your uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr.
King: My favorite memory is, of course, being a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the historical church, not the one that Reverend Warnock is pastoring today. And hearing my uncle’s sermons.
Also here, my dad, Reverend Alfred Daniel Williams came. ML and AD were inseparable. They were often joined by their sister Christine. I was in the wedding of my aunt Christine King Farris and Uncle ML and my daddy AD officiated the wedding and I was a junior bridesmaid.
So to walk down and see be in the wedding party with my grandfather giving the beautiful bride away, my daddy and my uncle officiating and I was in the wedding, I would say that’s one of my most beautiful experiences in life.
Leahy: Where were you when your uncle Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the famous 1963 I Have a Dream speech?
King: I was at home and I was the oldest of our generation at the time. So the children our age did not go. Our parents went. My mom and dad went, of course, and my uncle fleet. We had to watch it on the news.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael in studio. He is our all-star panelist and has a question for you Alveda.
Carmichael: You’ve heard your uncle give sermons. I’m wondering if somebody who was very familiar with his thinking, did his I Have a Dream speech, while it surprised the nation did it surprise you?
King: It did not surprise family. We were part of that dream, the King family legacy. We come from a family of prophets and dreamers. Actually, Uncle ML was not the first, so it was very encouraging. He was the very most famous member of our family and still is today. We loved, admired, and respected him so very much.
Leahy: Yes. And as to the love and the respect that you had for him, did he ever kind of take personal time with you and talk about your future and talk about the role that you might play as an adult in America?
King: (Chuckles) My dad and my uncle, we were at their house for one of the holidays. We went back and forth to each other’s houses during holidays when I was a teenage girl. By then he says, hey, brother, you better watch her.
She’s going to be beautiful, that kind of thing. And we had morals and character lessons throughout our whole family all of the time from all of the adults. That was no exception.
Leahy: From the I Have a Dream speech in 1963 when he soared in national and international prominence and won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize until his death in 1968, was he under huge pressure to lead this civil rights movement?
King: He was under extreme pressure, of course. And the older preachers were saying he was doing too much, one younger than he was, that he wasn’t doing enough. But he was a fantastic leader.
I tell you the best message that I made about my uncle, I wrote a song in 1974 before my grandmother Alberta was shot playing the organ at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a few months later, actually. Let Freedom Ring.
Let freedom ring, and thank God that King had a dream. And I wrote the music about that particular dream and all of that. It has been re-released and it’s circulating today. So you can hear that song and see the music video on YouTube. Alveda King, Let Freedom Ring.
Leahy: Do you still live in Atlanta?
King: I live in Atlanta, Georgia. Yes, I do.
Leahy: What would your uncle say if he were to look at the state of the country today in 2023?
King: My Uncle Martin Jr. today would ask us to pray more, pray harder, and then act accordingly. He had a dream and he said that. It’s a little short video, that one day there will be no white power, black power, only God power, and human power.
He would say, we can learn to live together and not perish as brothers and sisters and not perish together as fools. So he was like, I get this. My family is (Inaudible talk). We have faith, hope, and love. We don’t give up. And even in the midst of sadness, we have faith, we repent and we love others and forgive.
So he would tell us to do that and keep moving forward. I have also a new song, We Have Overcome, and that’s the music video as well. And so he’s saying, we shall overcome. Today Alveda is singing we have been overcome by the blood of the lamb Jesus Christ.
Leahy: And where can people find that song?
King: It’s probably on YouTube, but on Spotify and all those kinds of places. And my website, Alvedaking.com. You can find out more about all of my songs and my books, and I’m still living the dream. We have to do it in every generation. And now with technology, every decade and sometimes every day.
Leahy: Alvedaking.com. Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. Alveda, thank you so much for joining us today.
King: Thank you and God bless you.
Leahy: God bless you, too, Alveda.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alveda King” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0. Background Photo “Martin Luther King, Jr.” by National Park Service. CC BY 2.0.