On Monday February 12th, Dr. Alveda King came to the Roanoke campus to speak to the students about her family, social justice, and her pro-life cause. Alumni Gym quickly filled with students, faculty, staff, and many members from the local community, particularly members of the congregations of local churches. The evening was sponsored by Students for Life, Black Students Alliance, the Office of Multi-cultural Affairs, the Interfaith Council at RC, Peace and Justice Studies, St. John Lutheran Church and Catholic Campus Ministries.
The night began with a small group of student’s recital of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, the Black national anthem. Following them, freshman Bridget Rose introduced the speaker, Dr. Alveda King. Dr. King is the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and daughter of his brother, Civil Rights activist, Rev. A.D. King. She is a mother and a grandmother, as well as a published author.
Dr. King thanked everyone for coming and then began detailing her family history. She told stories, both humorous and tragic, enlightening the audience of her experience growing up in such a religious and socially active home. She told us about her uncle and father’s difficulty growing up in a society that did not accept all races, in a country that did not recognize their contributions. As an example, she brought up how Paul Revere had a black man with him on his famous ride who was never given credit for his part in that night. A second example was how her uncle, who had done so much for our nation, was killed for his work. However, the most important thing she learned from her family was to use no weapons but instead use love. There is only one race, the human race, and every member of it is entitled to equal rights.
In Dr. Alveda King’s time, abortion was a part of social equality. In the name of feminism, women had an equal right not to be penalized for sexual behavior as men were. Alveda shared that she was a baby who was almost aborted, and that she herself had two abortions. However, she was coerced into both, and she now firmly believes that social justice extends to every human, including those who have not yet been born.
After her speech, Dr. King had a question and answer session in which audience members were encouraged to write their questions in a provided space, tear them out of the program and send them anonymously to the front of the room. Dr. King answered questions about her abortions, about her beliefs on abortion in the cases of rape and poverty, the horrible history of sterilization, as well as touching on the issue of gay rights.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” This was a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that formed the foundation of Alveda’s beliefs, along with her own personal quote, “Forsake all violence of human weaponry, words and deeds. Rather, apply the force of unfailing agape love. The regard for the human personality demands no less.” Dr. Alveda King’s message was a message of love and a message of hope for social justice in the twenty-first century.