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Martin Luther King Jr sits on a swing with his eldest daughter, Yolanda, and eldest son, Martin, at an amusement park he helped desegregate.
Martin Luther King III takes part in a march on the 45th anniversary of his father's assassination in Memphis, Tenn. Originally published on August 14, 2013 11:09 am In this three-part series, Karen Grigsby Bates talks with children of Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo and Dr.
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After Rosa Parks, a seamstress and local NAACP stalwart, was arrested in 1955 for refusing to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger, Abernathy and King helped organizer a bus boycott that ended with the desegregation of buses in Montgomery. Abernathy, her exclusion from the celebration of the march is in line with other slights she thinks her husband endured through the years.
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But to the revered leader's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, the famous man was just "Daddy." And like millions of other daddies across the country, he got pestered by his kids when they wanted something. Martin Luther King III chuckles, remembering how he and his older sister Yolanda used to clamor to go to Funtown. They frequently drove by the segregated amusement park with their mother, Coretta Scott King, as they dropped off their father at the airport for one of his many out-of-town speaking engagements or rallies. Martin Luther King III recalls, "Many of those times, we were told, 'You're not able to go now, but Daddy's working on it, and one day we will be able to go.' " Like a lot of black parents in the segregated South, Martin Luther King Jr.


When the family did eventually get to visit the amusement parks that Martin Luther King Jr. He "rode on all the rides, and just enjoyed himself thoroughly," Martin Luther King III says.
And they dressed, of course, in the accepted armor of respectability worn by protesters and integrators alike: their Sunday best. Martin Luther King III recounts this and other stories from his childhood in his new children's book, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King III had been thinking about writing about his child's-eye view of his father for almost a decade, but the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington became a personal deadline.
The book, written for young children, has just been published, three weeks ahead of the anniversary. Now Martin Luther King III and his wife, Andrea, have a 5-year-old daughter, Yolanda Renee.
In the book, young Martin Luther King III tells readers about the games he played with his father. Martin Luther King III also retells stories of accompanying his father on marches from time to time. I was terrified." That is, he was scared until his dad took his hand and told him they would be fine. Long after his father's death, Martin Luther King III has had to deal with others' expectations that he would take up the cause.
King is deeply grateful that decades ago, his mother relieved him of some of that pressure. We are going to support you." But Martin Luther King III did partly follow in his famous father's footsteps.
He graduated from Morehouse College, his father's alma mater, and he participates in a fair amount of social and civic activism. And there will, inevitably, be a recap of his father's globally-known — and now copyrighted — "I Have a Dream" speech. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Between 1954 and 1968, more than three dozen people lost their lives in the civil rights movement. Some of the people who paid the highest cost were the children of what many call the movement's martyrs. As part of NPR's focus on the pivotal summer of 1963, NPR's Karen Grigsby Bates spoke with people who lost parents in the battle for racial equality. He was there to help black sanitation workers as they struck for safer working conditions and fair wages.


The country was riveted by the sight of King's children sitting in the front pew of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta next to their grieving mother. Twelve-year-old Yolanda, 10-year-old Martin, seven-year-old Dexter and their five-year-old sister Bernice became symbols of the cruelty of that loss. BATES: In 2008, an adult Martin Luther King III addressed the Democratic National Convention in Denver and told delegates how pleased he believed his father would have been with the party's nominee, Barack Obama.
MARTIN LUTHER KING III: You know, we are all children of the dream, and he is here in all of our hearts and minds. He's one of the founders of Bounce TV, a broadcast channel devoted to African-American interests.
He has been involved in social activism, but he's resisted being a carbon copy of his father. But he and his siblings have been criticized for copyrighting their father's "I Have A Dream" speech and charging for its use. After Coretta Scott King and their sister Yolanda died a few years ago, the remaining Kings publicly squabbled over the management of the King Center. That kind of confrontation was atypical for Martin King, who says he's been shy and cautious since childhood. MARTIN LUTHER KING III: It's really written for young children to get a context and an understanding that, yes, Martin Luther King Jr. BATES: In the book, young Marty King recalls riding past a popular segregated amusement park as the family drove to the airport to drop Dr. MARTIN LUTHER KING III: We must have passed by Six Flags a hundred times and many of those times we were told, well, we're not able to go now, but daddy's working on it and one day we will be able to go. In this passage, King reads about one of his favorite games: his father places young Marty on top of the refrigerator. MARTIN LUTHER KING III: (Reading) I imagined swinging from the ceiling fan as if I were flying in my own airplane. His father's spirit will be very much with Martin King on August 28th, when he'll speak in Washington, D.C.
Tomorrow on MORNING EDITION, she talks with the daughter of Viola Liuzzo, the only white woman murdered in the struggle for civil rights.



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