What gave people the spark, the inspiration and a hope for change was Montgomery, said Bernice King, the youngest child of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
King told a crowd Friday at Alabama State University’s National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture that “we know the efforts that were already taking place even before Rosa Parks sat down on the bus and was arrested.
“I want to thank God for ensuring ... that we never forget Montgomery,” she said. “So those that you hear today, that are under the age of 40 ... it is incumbent upon you to make sure that you grab hold of this and continue to keep it alive, and that no one wipes out the critical importance of Montgomery.
“And that this is where it all began. This is the real cradle of where this movement began.”
King spoke at a brown bag roundtable celebrating the 58th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The theme was “Civil Rights in the 21st Century: A Vision of Empowerment for Women.” Panelists scheduled to speak included Shivani Soni, assistant professor of biological sciences at ASU; the Rev. Kathy McFadden, pastor of Old Ship African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Valda Montgomery, retired associate professor in the clinical doctorate of physical therapy program at ASU.
Another speaker was Margaret Dureke, founder and president of Women Empowered to Achieve the Impossible (WETATI), a global business network for women of all generations. And despite her degrees from American University and Howard University, she said it took her 22 years after graduating to “find myself.” She said she had the book knowledge, but nothing from the “school of life.”