Dr. Bernice King on her father’s legacy in 2016, the GOP, Obama’s last year as President and more

By Alex Bregman

Dr. Bernice King, CEO of the King Center and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., joined Yahoo Finance Anchor Alexis Christoforous on “Yahoo News Live” on what would have been her father’s 87th birthday. She reflected on her father’s legacy, Obama’s presidency and the 2016 race for the White House.

On the rhetoric in the sixth GOP debate, Dr. King said, “I do think we have to find a way to raise the standard in how to talk to each other.”

Responding to the controversy surrounding GOP candidate Donald Trump speaking at Liberty University’s convocation on Martin Luther King Day, Dr. King told Christoforous, “I’m not a part of that so I really can’t address that, but this is the King holiday. People choose to do what they want as it relates to the holiday. We prefer that people focus on the ideals and the teachings of my father. And as you know, my father was for the inclusiveness and the betterment of society and the world. Certainly we recognize that there are diverse voices in our country and people have the right of free speech. They have the right of choice, but again it is our hope that when they choose, they choose to reflect those ideals that he taught us.”

Dr. King also reflected on her father’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream Speech” and on the challenges the African-American community faces today. “I think the most pressing issue in our community is probably a generational divide,” she said. …  “We have not done a good job to ensure that our next generation understands fully our history and the contributions that so many people made for them to be where they are and also have an appreciation for some of the values that we have reflected, such as a respect for community, a love for family and also a strong sense of faith.”

On the rising divide in race relations during President Obama’s tenure, she said: “All of us can do a much better job. Those of us in different places of leadership can certainly do a much better job in fostering better race relations. I do think presidents set tones and I think he has done a tremendous job in doing that. He has spoken a couple of times I know specifically on the issue of race.”

She continued, “One person cannot be blamed for years of problems as it relates to race in America. This is something that has been with us since the founding of this nation. I mean, we were founded with slaves. Institutionalized racism has been with us pre-Obama and it obviously will be with us post-Obama. But again, I believe that my father would challenge us to find a way, which I believe through our teachings of Non-Violence 365 [at the King Center] better race relations. We have to learn how to live together and co-exist even if we never come to a common ground.”

Reflecting on her father’s legacy on his 87th birthday anniversary, she said: “As I think about him today, I miss him, first and foremost. I wish he were with us because he would be that moral voice that we need to kind of bring us back to the best of who we are as humanity.”

She further reflected on the state of race relations in 2016. “We did not do a good job between [my father’s] assassination and the election of President Obama,” but praised the current activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. “The beauty of the Black Lives Matter movement is it is bringing [protest] back to the forefront and keeping it at the forefront because we have to deal with the polarization and the divides.”

Finally, she concluded by paraphrasing her father: “If we don’t learn to live together as brothers and sisters, we will perish as fools.’”