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At event, MLK's niece talks experience with abortion

Chris Ryba/Daily
Dr. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., gives her testimony and shares her thoughts on abortion during a discussion titled "How Will the Dream Survive?" at the Chemistry Building on Oct. 7th, 2010. Buy this photo

BY JEFF WARANIAK
For the Daily
Published October 7, 2010

Dr. Alveda King — niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — explained why she’s changed her opinion about abortion and her role as a civil rights activist during a speech on campus last night.

In her lecture “How Can the Dream Survive?” King discussed how her life has influenced her outlook on civil rights and her personal experiences with abortion.

King began her presentation — a PowerPoint that included family photos of herself and other relatives with her father — civil rights activist A.D. William King, Sr. and her uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

King also recounted her own experiences with abortion, telling the audience at the Chemistry Building that she had two abortions herself and explaining how she came to be a pro-life advocate and a born-again Christian.

“I saw an ultrasound and I realized that it was a baby. I could see the little heart and hands and said, ‘My God, I’ve been involved in killing people,’” King said. “In 1983, I became born again. I repented for my involvement in the death of my own babies.”

As part of her presentation, King also promoted a message of unity around civil rights.

“What difference does it make how long or how short somebody’s hair is? What color their skin is? What part of the globe they were born in?” King asked the audience. “There is one human race. We are the human race.”

King continued by discussing the values that she considers important as a pro-life advocate and a civil rights activist.

“I believe that human love and compassion will take us very far,” she said. “Faith, hope, love, repentance, forgiveness are all principles that we all can embrace and should embrace.”

King stressed that she continues to support the pro-life movement and to carry the message of equality that her father and uncle passed down to her.

“If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to the event today,” King said, “he would encourage us all to get together, to love and forgive each other, and to work out a solution where everybody wins.”

King is the director of the pro-life advocacy group Priests for Life and founder of King for America, an organization that aims to enhance the lives of people spiritually, physically, intellectually and socially. She is also a strong supporter of Students for Life of America.

“Anytime chapters call me and I can work them into my schedule, I like to try and help,” King said of the organization.

Before her presentation, King noted that she was not giving her presentation in a church — as she often does — and said she welcomed everyone regardless of personal opinions about abortion and civil rights.

But a group of graduate students from the University’s School of Social Work attended King’s presentation in an effort to respond to controversial comments King made recently about her position on homosexuality.

Among the students, Alia Torran-Burrel, a first-year Social Work graduate student, asked King about her position on gay rights.

King responded to Torran-Burrel, saying she would have to be invited back a second time in order to address the topic fully, but that in her mind every life is important.

“What we’re talking about tonight is the right to live,” King said. “Everyone has the right to be loved and cherished. I’m not for hating people because of their denomination or their size or their sexual lives. That’s wrong to do that.”

Despite the criticisms, LSA senior Jeff Brown, who has been a member of Students for Life since his freshman year, said the organization was “very honored” by King’s attendance.

“Dr. King is a very well respected leader in the pro-life community,” Brown said. “Being in this movement I’ve always found that people who’ve had abortions and regretted it make the best spokespeople.”