Martin Luther King III keynote speaker at Charlotte MLK celebration

MLK Day Virtual Family Celebration

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Greater Charlotte YMCA hosted its 27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Monday.

The event was free and virtual and featured Martin Luther King III as the keynote speaker.

King participated in a conversation with community leaders addressing topics from health to racism.

Kings says it’s good that his father’s birthday is in January - the time when people make resolutions and start fresh.

The son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says progress has been made but more progress has to be made.

“While we are not around where we need to be achieving freedom and justice and equality for all humankind,” King said. “We have an opportunity to start anew.”

King is hopeful about a new Presidential administration coming on board.

“Even though we are a very divided nation at this moment,” King said. “We have got to find a way to become more unified and build bridges.”

When it comes to erasing racism, King believes the work must start with young people.

He believes that will make a difference.

“We have the capacity to address it,” King said. “We need to look at - for example - being in the school system and incorporating diversity, human relations, and sensitivity training - not in high school but in kindergarten.”

King was also asked about African Americans taking the COVID-19 vaccination.

Some are hesitant because of the past experiences Blacks have had with taking vaccines.

He thinks more education and understanding will calm people’s fears.

“If we are the ones impacted,” King said. “The most then we also need to get a larger share of assistance and support and I think that is what we also hope to see happen...Our community needs a little more nurturing than other communities - number one when you are trying to survive on a daily basis - you may not have the time to focus on certain issues. Find a better way to make sure our community is informed.”

For nearly 20 years, King III has been a motivational speaker and been an advocate for social justice and equality.

He believes in order to keep the dream alive - older leaders need to pass the baton.

“We really need to push new leadership,” King said. “And work with them and ideally pass the torch - we are not doing enough leadership training.”

King III believes everybody has a responsibility.

When visiting his mother’s - Coretta Scott King - alma mater - he found these words inscribed on a statue. It read, “Be ashamed to die until you won a victory for humanity.”

“All those words basically mean are,” King III said. “Be ashamed to die until you have done a little something to make the world - in which we live in - a better place than it was when you arrived.”

Proceeds from donations given during the event will benefit the McCrorey YMCA.

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