The civil rights movement must extend to human rights, according to Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
In an address entitled “Conversation on Civil Rights … Then and Now,” King spoke to about 30 local Republicans and university students on Saturday morning in Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall. A national spokeswoman for Silent No More Awareness — a Christian campaign that spreads awareness of the physical and emotional harms of abortion — and former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, King spoke about nonviolent conflict resolution and her pro-life stance on abortion.
King emphasized the importance of following one’s morals rather than a political agenda. She criticized the self-promoting nature of today’s politics and urged the audience to put their morals before ambition.
“Sometimes I believe that spirit of competition of winning is so strong that you forget what’s right,” King said. “Nobody goes to war unless you count the cost. If you won’t win, you won’t do it.”
Though leaders usually know what is right, King said they often say, “Let’s not take that shot” because they fear risking their positions or career. According to King, leaders have to be reminded that politics should not be treated as a game of golf or of chance.
King said she was not always a Republican. As a young woman, she saw Republicans as rich white men, smoking cigars. Though she served on the Georgia House of Representatives as a Democrat, she later realized that her values did not align with those of the Democratic Party. She became an independent and eventually became a Republican.
When King discussed her pro-life views, she mentioned that she was once pro-choice, but after her second abortion, she said she realized that Planned Parenthood had manipulated her and had inflicted damage on her cervix. She learned that her grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., had convinced her mother not to choose abortion when her mother was pregnant with her.
“Everyone should be allowed to be born no matter what their philosophies will become,” King said.
Babies should be not aborted based on sex or race, she said, adding that more African-American babies are being aborted than are being born in places like New York City.
Conflict resolution for social issues like abortion should be nonviolent, King said. She alluded to the Bible as well as to C.S. Lewis in her rally against aggressive tactics for creating social change. “Mamma King,” her grandmother, used to tell King to love her enemies because “it’ll drive them crazy,” she said.
King said her principles include accepting suffering without retaliation, avoiding violence within groups and being courageous but nonviolent.
Audience members interviewed said they were inspired by King’s talk.
“These are issues that should be talked about on a regular basis,” said Sandra James, a Connecticut resident. “My concern is that the talk continues but actions are far and few.”
Andrew Johnian, secretary of the Fairfield University College Republicans, said he agreed with King that having moral compass is important. In an increasingly secular world where people care more about self-preservation than the common good, people need to remember to respect the dignity of all mankind, he said.
Emily Baczyk ’17 said King’s talk had the ability to resonate with a larger community, regardless of background.
King’s talk was hosted by the Connecticut Black Republicans and Conservatives, and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Thomas Foley and head of Connecticut College Republicans Nick Givas gave the opening speeches.