On campus, MLK’s niece to talk abortion views in civil rights context

BY OLIVIA CARRINO
Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 6, 2010

Continuing her uncle's discussion of the Civil Rights Movement, Alveda King — Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece — is coming to campus tonight to extend the conversation of minority rights to the hot-button issue of abortion.

The University’s chapter of Students for Life has invited King to speak tonight in an event called “How Can the Dream Survive?” during which she will discuss abortion in the context of the civil rights movement. King — the director of the pro-life advocacy group Priests for Life — has drawn controversy in recent weeks for her views on abortion and gay marriage as well as her appearance at Fox News commentator Glenn Beck’s Rally to Restore Honor in August.

Though many students expressed interest in welcoming King to campus, students like LSA junior Raina LaGrand opposed the presentation.

LaGrand, a member of the University’s chapter of Students for Choice, said King’s relation to Martin Luther King, Jr. makes criticism of the event difficult but that certain misconceptions still need to be addressed.

“What’s interesting is that anti-choice (and) pro-life groups have framed abortion as a eugenics movement,” she said. “They are stating that Planned Parenthood targets black communities. Alveda King has been very outspoken on that, and she has said a lot of homophobic things as well.”

LSA sophomore Claire Levis, president for Students for Life, said King can personally speak about abortion because she has been in the situation “emotionally, physically and academically."

“I think she realizes abortion really does impact the rights of women and it really does impact the way America sees people,” she said. “I think she is going to talk about how minorities are targeted by Planned Parenthood … (and) how Planned Parenthood was built on a very racist foundation.”

LaGrand said she feels it is upsetting that King, who identifies as a civil rights activist and has had two abortions herself, is speaking out against Planned Parenthood given its support for minority communities.

“I would point out that she is just one voice of many women who have had abortions, and that there are many women out there who will tell you that their abortions have saved their lives or have prevented them from getting in a position that was going to take them on a bad path,” she said.

Levis responded to questions concerning King’s background, saying that she believes that King’s change in viewpoints came from the realization that the “hurt, suffering and depression she was going through was a result of the abortions, and that her self-destructive behavior came from the fact that she went through that.”

Levis added that assistant dean of students Sam Goodin advised the group to meet with the protesters to avoid disruptions to this evening’s event.

Though Students for Choice is not planning to attend the event as a group, LaGrand said group members will be hanging flyers tomorrow showcasing their views.

Levis said the ultimate goal of the event, and for Students for Life, is to educate women on campus about their options.

“I really hope that people who come to the speech will understand that we are only trying to help women,” she said. “We aren’t trying to accuse anyone, we’re not trying to target anyone, we are just here to say that abortion is an awful thing, and it’s not your only option and you don’t want to have a life of pain and suffering.”