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Bernice Albertine King

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Subject: Steven Spielberg, Dexter Scott King, Martin Luther King III, Candler School of Theology, Yolanda King
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Bernice Albertine King

Bernice King
Bernice King at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial groundbreaking in 2006. Photo by Mark Blacknell.
Born (1963-03-28) March 28, 1963 (age 51)
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Occupation Currently President-Elect of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Parents Martin Luther King
Coretta Scott King

Bernice Albertine King (born March 28, 1963) is an American Baptist minister. She is the second daughter and youngest child of civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Coretta Scott King.[1] Her older siblings are Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and the late Yolanda Denise King. Bernice was only five years old when her father died and is the only King child to have become a minister.

Schooling and careers

King is a graduate of Douglass High School in Atlanta, attended Grinnell College in Iowa, and graduated from Spelman College with a degree in psychology. She is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, as was her mother.

Ebony magazine named her one of their Ten of Tomorrow future leaders of the black community.

King says she once considered suicide before God intervened. At the age of 24, she decided to become a minister, and she received a Master's degree in Divinity from the Candler School of Theology and a Juris Doctor in Law from Emory University School of Law. King is a member of the State Bar of Georgia.[2]

She is a former elder at New Birth, resigning in May 2011.[3]

In 1996, King published a collection of her sermons and speeches called Hard Questions, Heart Answers.[4]

In 2000, she narrated a performance of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Kiel.



With her brother Martin Luther King III, she has played an active part in reforming the Southern Christian Leadership Conference once led by their father. When she was elected President and CEO of SCLC on October 30, 2009, a position previously held by both her father and brother, she became the first woman to lead the group, but discord in the organization has prevented her taking that position.[5] In January 2011, she stepped down as President, citing disagreements with the organization's leadership.


In 2004, Bernice King participated in a march against same-sex marriage in Atlanta. This action was in contrast to the advocacy of her mother, Coretta Scott King and her older sister Yolanda Denise King, both longtime, outspoken supporters of gay rights. During Atlanta's 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally, King included LGBT people among the various groups who needed to come together to "fulfill her father’s legacy."[6] When speaking at Brown University in 2013, King made statements regarding her beliefs about the origins of marriage: "I believe that the family was created and ordained first and foremost by God, that He instituted the marriage, and that's a law that he instituted and not... that we instituted"[7] and about the origins of same-sex attraction: "I also don't believe everybody's born that way. I know some people have been violated. I know some people have unfortunately delved into it as an experiment".[8]


On January 30, 2007, one year after the death of her mother Coretta Scott King, Bernice King founded the Be A King Scholarship at Spelman College, Georgia, in honor of her mother's legacy.[9] Bernice King donated $100,000 of her personal funds, while $75,000 was donated from Home Depot and $15,000 from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The scholarship will be awarded to two rising seniors at Spelman College who are majoring in music, education or psychology.


King is pro-life and believes that life begins and should be protected by law since conception.[10]

King Center

In 2008, Bernice King and her brother, Martin Luther King III, filed suit over mismanagement of funds from the King Center against their brother Dexter Scott King, who then filed a countersuit against them. Dexter King articulated his distress at Bernice King's conservative religious views as departing from their father's legacy.[11] In October 2009 the lawsuits were settled out of court.

In January 2012 Bernice King was named CEO of the King Center.[12]

Public speaking

King has been asked to speak around the world. At 17, she was invited to speak at the United Nations in the absence of her mother. On January 20, 2009, she joined her brother Martin Luther King III on CNN's "The Situation Room" to discuss the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama.

On July 7, 2009, Bernice spoke alongside her brother Martin at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at a ceremony commemorating the life of Michael Jackson. On August 28, 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, which her father took part in, Bernice spoke and related that the denizens of the United States were "still bound by a cycle of civil unrest and inherit social biases, in our nation and the world, that often times degenerates into violence and destruction". Despite this, she admitted to being pleased to see many young people and women at the event, noting that was not the case during the March on Washington itself.


On December 14, 2007, at the State Bar of Georgia Headquarters, Bernice King was honored by the Georgia Alliance of African American Attorneys with the "Commitment to Community" award for her work as an attorney and community leader.



  • Bernice A. King's website
  • PBS Newshour profile
  • profile
  • article on King's anti-gay marriage protest December 14 2004
  • Associated Press article on gay marriage march published on MSNBC December 11 2004
  • Associated Press article on Southern Christian Leadership Council rebuilding 30 July 2005

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