Rev. Bernice King knows the pain George Floyd's 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, is feeling after her father's fatal arrest. ET's Kevin Frazier spoke with the youngest child of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. about #OnlineProtest -- a seven-day virtual protest that will take place every day until June 8 -- as well as how she can relate to Gianna's "pain" following her father's death.
"I was 5 when my father was assassinated brutally. She's 6, so we [were] the same age, and immediately when this happened and I heard that he had a 6-year-old daughter, it took me back to when my father was brutally taken from us," King said, referencing her father's 1968 death. "I know the pain that comes from losing a daddy at such a young age, and the things that she's going to have to wrestle with, in particular the anger and having to guard [herself] against hating."
Protests are taking place throughout the U.S. after Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, died after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. The incident was filmed and Floyd was seen repeatedly telling the officer, "I can't breathe."
Growing up, King told ET she was told by her mother to not hate the man or person who killed her father.
"And yet I went on a journey where I did hate for a while," King admitted. "I hated white people and especially white males. And that journey was in my 20s and into my early 30s. Most people didn't know it because of the kind of household I grew up in, but I was dealing with that and the anger inside and the rage inside. We gotta change America."
At just 6 years old, however, Gianna is aware of the impact her father has had on America and the world.
"She said to us, 'My daddy changed the world,'" King explained, touching on video of Gianna shouting the phrase. "She spoke prophetically out of her mouth because we will change the world now. And it's so sad that it always has to be something so brutal. Why can't we just do the right thing?"
"I'm saying to my white brothers and sisters, come out of the confines of your privilege," King added. "All over America there're some standing side by side in the social justice movement, they've done it since the '50s and '60s."
King continued by saying that people in places of power and influence must also recognize the problems that affect the black community. "Internal change has to happen as well. Heart change, structure change and policy change."
For King, "It's been disturbing, it's been disheveling," seeing the same incidents happen to black Americans across the nation. "I've just been saying over and over again, America, we have a choice to make."
"The movement that my father led was a disruption, it was an interruption to get out attention then, to say, hey, we have to reorder our values, we have to recognize the dignity of African Americans, and we have to make sure that we include them in an equitable fashion in America," King explained, adding that she chooses nonviolent ways to protest. "I continue in that work. I still believe in it. I know in the end that if we're gonna get to permanent peace, which means justice, then nonviolence has to be the way."
As for what people can do, King says, "There's a lot of next steps. But for my white brothers and sisters, do the anti-racism. It has to be done." Aside from starting to be anti-racism, King also says that there needs to be policy reform in police departments and "encouraging and demanding that our law enforcement community across this nation begin to put those recommendations into practice while we're changing some of the legislation around chokeholds and excessive force, etc."
One way for people to be involved during #COVID19. Includes a petition for the arrests of all ex-officers involved in the murder of #GeorgeFloyd; a call for an anti-chokehold act; a 7pm EST livestream each day. More: https://t.co/ftAynCSn5V #OnlineProtest #Justice #DirectAction pic.twitter.com/nLno1g5UQf— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) June 3, 2020
King, on her end, kicked off the #OnlineProtest, which runs daily at 7 p.m. ET until June 8. The 57-year-old CEO of the King Center explained that she created it since people are still sheltered in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"So we established an online platform for people to have their voices heard.We're collecting people's ideas and thoughts, but we're also focusing people on solutions because we got to move from protesters to solutions synergistically," she explained. "We have to continue to raise our voices even online as people are protesting peace in streets and [we'll be] clarifying some things on those platforms as well."
For more information on #OnlineProtest, visit https://thekingcenter.org/onlineprotest/.