Martin Luther King III
Martin Luther King III

LOUDONVILLE - Civil rights advocate and global humanitarian Martin Luther King III will be the featured speaker for Siena College’s 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King Lecture on Race and Nonviolent Social Change.

 

Jan. 27, 2022 has been confirmed as the date for King’s visit to campus, where he will also be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by the college. He is the third member of the iconic King family to speak at Siena: his mother, Coretta Scott King, addressed the Siena community in 1986 when she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. His sister, Bernice King, spoke in 2002.


“Strengthening the bonds of racial justice is one of Siena’s most fervently-held commitments,” said President Chris Gibson. “We are most honored to welcome Martin Luther King III to our campus to share his life experience and connect the important lessons of the past with the critical needs of our future to motivate a new generation of authentic leaders.”


The lecture will be free and open to the public, barring any pandemic-related restrictions.


The oldest of the four King children, Martin Luther King III speaks frequently on a variety of topics such as the continuing struggle for civil rights and taking a stand against adversity, emphasizing the importance of individual action in making his father’s dream a reality. He is an activist who works to promote global human rights and eradicate racism, violence, and poverty — referred to by his father as the “triple evils” and the “scourges of humankind.”


“Society has embraced a culture of violence,” King said, “but today’s real leaders must think about how to create a culture of non-violence because our culture cannot sustain itself if we continue to operate this way.”


In August 2020, on the anniversary of his father’s “I Have a Dream” speech and in response to the death of George Floyd, King addressed thousands from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington.


King has served as the elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference — an organization co-founded by his father — focusing on the police brutality and racial profiling hearings in several states and leading to the passage of several resolutions that make racial profiling illegal. His Stop the Killing — End the Violence campaign anchored the well-known Gun Buy-Back program that collected over 10,000 weapons across the United States.


In 2003, Mr. King co-sponsored the 40th Anniversary of the historic March on Washington, joining hands with human rights organizations across the country. He later founded Realizing the Dream, Inc., which eventually merged with The King Center, and took his father’s message to a global audience by spearheading nonviolence training in Bosnia Herzegovina, India, Israel, Palestine, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and the United States.


King has remained committed to the educational development of youth and has initiated several programs throughout the years to support and nurture young people. Among them are the King Summer Intern Program, designed to provide employment opportunities for high school students; Hoops for Health — a charity basketball game held to increase public awareness of newborns suffering the effects of substance abuse; and A Call to Manhood — an annual event designed to unite young African American males with positive adult role models.  


In 2008, King spoke on behalf of then presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.


The King Lecture Series on Race and Nonviolent Social Change was established by Siena in 1988 to preserve the legacy of the nonviolent human rights movement as it was expressed in the life and teachings of Martin Luther King Jr., and continued after his death by Coretta Scott King. Past speakers include U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Elie Wiesel, Cornel West, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Julian Bond and Morris Dees.