Some 48 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech calling for racial equality and an end to discrimination.
These days, his niece advances a vital cause of her own: Protecting the sanctity of human life by speaking out against abortion.
Dr. Alveda King, a noted pro-life activist, made two appearances in Elmira Sept. 13, speaking in the afternoon at Notre Dame High School and in the evening at the Clemens Center downtown. Her visit was sponsored by Chemung County Right to Life (CCRTL).
King serves as a spokesperson for "Silent No More," a group that exposes the pain and heartache of abortion. She also is an ordained minister and director of African-American outreach for Priests for Life. In 2008 she released the book How Can the Dream Survive If We Murder the Children? She served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1979-81 and is a board member of Georgia Right to Life.
Both of her Elmira presentations centered on the violence of abortion and were titled "How Can the Dream Survive?" Terry Burke, a CCRTL board member, said that "the fine points of each talk were tailored to the audience she was addressing," noting, for example, that King implored the high-schoolers to plan ahead and form goals, and consider how a particular choice could stand in the way of reaching those goals.
"Her message is especially important for today’s youth because it counteracts the destructive messages of our modern media. By presenting the truth that choices have consequences, she helps students understand that God has a unique plan for each of us," Burke said.
King’s perspectives are borne of personal experiences earlier in life. She shared with the Elmira audiences how her mother considered aborting her but was talked out of it by her grandfather, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.
King has had two abortions of her own. As a young woman, her first abortion was performed without her knowledge or consent. Her second abortion was her own choice, and she came to regret the decision after the advent of ultrasound "which shows that a fetus is not just a ‘lump of flesh’ as the abortion providers claim," Burke said. Thus, King carries a special compassion for those who have had abortions and are now experiencing grief and regret.
"She wants everyone to know that God offers us forgiveness and healing after abortion," said Burke, who serves as coordinator of the Respect Life Committee at All Saints Parish in Corning and Painted Post. She also coordinates the Gabriel Project of the Twin Tiers, which supports women in crisis pregnancies.