Yolanda King, the eldest child of the Martin Luther King Jr. died suddenly on Tuesday at the age of 51. She was an actor and the CEO of her own production company, Higher Ground Productions. It was through acting and public speaking that she became herself while still carrying on the civil rights activist work of her parents.
Being Dr. King’s daughter was a big burden to bear. It began on Jan. 30, 1956, when Yolanda, nicknamed ‘Yoki’, was 2 months old and the family’s house was bombed in the Montgomery bus boycott.
Her deepest memories were the love of her father, who taught her to swim and but never spanked her. She called him “my first buddy,” saying, “I was tremendously loved.”
Yolanda King was 12 on April 4, 1968, when she heard a news bulletin on television saying her father had been assassinated in Memphis. Four days later, she and her brothers accompanied their mother to appear at Memphis City Hall. Coretta King said the children attended because they wanted to.
In 1963, when she was 7, her father mentioned her and her siblings at the March on Washington, saying: ''I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.''
An article and a video interview in which Yolanda King speaks in 2003 about what it was like being a child of Martin and Coretta is found at this link:
BBC News-Breakfast-Yolanda King
Image: Yolanda King, photo from her web site.