The Torch is Passed at the King Center

Eric Olsen
December 14, 2012

Articles at the King Center, such as Dr. Martin Luther King’s Bible, preserve Dr. King’s footprints.

There is a quite reverence in the King Center where Dr. King’s footprints are preserved behind glass cases. A Bible, dog eared from study, his black minister’s robes from his preaching days at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, his shiny black dress shoes, remind us that Dr. King was a spiritual man, driven by a vision not confined to one race or one nation.

John F. Kennedy's diary, featuring significant entries related to the King Center and a symbolically powerful torch.

Dr. MLK, Jr.’s Bible at the King Center.

Dusty brown walking boots, a suitcase of plaid shirts and a tan jacket from the March on Washington, bring us side-by-side with Dr. King and others who courageously walked against fear and anger for hope and dignity. A box of cuff links and tie pins lend a human touch to the hero and legend.

Dr. King’s book by Mohandas Ghandi’s on civil disobedience and non-violence, allow us to reflect on the universal truths of love and peace that he put into practice to break the centuries old institution of segregation and dehumanization.

The paper clipping from his hotel room from the day of his assassination, tells of his and his family’s sacrifice.

Civil Rights legends address international youth at the King Center during the GPC 2012 Atanta.

The town hall discussion at the King Center on December 2, convened legends of the Civil Rights to speak to the international youth leaders at the Global Peace Convention.

But the real testaments to Dr. King’s legacy are the leaders, young and old who have picked up where he left off. At the close of the Global Peace Convention, the King Center hosted a town hall discussion with the legends of the Civil Rights Movement. The discussion brought forth the fact that the dream that Dr. King worked for, is not a task bequeathed to just one individual or even one generation. Everyday leaders are born “to do something great for the past, present and future.” Judge Glenda Hatchett, a childhood friend of Yolanda King and star of the Judge Hatchett Show, remarked, “You don’t own the torch, you are a caretaker for it from our ancestors. When you pass it, it should burn brighter.”

It is a task that Rev. Durley linked with divine will, “This is a Kairos moment. There is a bigger purpose moving. It is divinely inspired.” Rev. C.T. Vivian reinforced Dr. Durley’s comment and asserted that Dr. King was a “moral and spiritual leader.”

Elder Bernice King, Dr. King’s youngest daughter, has worked through the King Center to teach the next generation how to carry on the dream. Through the King Center she works with youth to identify and work with their God-given passions. She urged the young leaders to take on the torch. “Freedom is never won. You earn it from every generation. Whatever your age, there’s a generational calling on you.” She told the delegation of youth leaders from the Global Peace Convention, “When you are chosen, you have no choice in the matter. You have each been chosen.”

These leaders who stood next to Dr. King were inspired by his example and remain committed to fulfilling the work he began. People like Rev.C.T. Vivian and Rev. Durley, Judge Hatchett, Hon. Stacy Abrams, and Elder Bernice King, who sat on the panel, remind us that the fight continues to liberate all children of God.

In pockets of America children remain enslaved by poverty, slavery continues in corners of the world  through human trafficking cartels, racial, ethnic and religious discrimination still happens in front of our eyes, and families are torn apart by economic and social strains.

In each generation there are those who heed the calling and take up the torch of liberty and freedom, just as Dr. King did. They are the true artifacts of King’s legacy of a timeless dream. Next year will mark the 50th Anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, how will you be the dream?

Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” is lived at the King Center.


The eternal flame at the King Center, symbolizes the continued efforts to establish Dr. King’s “Beloved Community.”

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