ATLANTA - They are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Doctor Bernice King, the daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., backed democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race. Her cousin, Doctor Alveda King, a prominent conservative activist, voted for GOP contender Donald Trump.
“She is very strongly opinionated in her perspective. I’m opinionated in my perspective,” explained Bernice King. The women sat down with FOX 5’s Deidra Dukes for an interview at the King Center in northeast Atlanta to discuss the current political climate.
The cousins definitely don’t see eye to eye on most issues, but they have managed to bridge the political divide, and believe it’s possible for Americans to do the same.
Bernice King said, “We’ve become so intolerant in this world of anyone who does not think like us, practice like us.” Alveda King added, “On every side.”
Despite their opposing political views, when it comes to talking politics, they work to find common ground at a time when the country is deeply divided among party lines.
“When people see us this isn’t an effort this is genuine we actually love each other, we don’t agree,” Alveda King explained as her cousin Bernice nodded in agreement.
“Sometimes we’ve had heated discussions but it’s never come across as that kind of angst where I hate you, which has happened to a lot of families today.”
The Kings grew up in families where they were taught the importance of unconditional love and forgiveness. As adults, Bernice King explained that the women use Dr. King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence as a guide when tackling controversial issues. “We listen to each other and learn to disagree in our listening to each other and sometimes we agree, believe it or not we agree.”
In an effort to focus on facts and not let emotions take over, the cousins gather information to present an educated argument. They commit to the process no matter how difficult, while making every effort to engage in peaceful and constructive debate said Alveda King. “All of the angst, turmoil, strife comes from lack of information so we have to get past the emotional responses.”
In listening to the women it’s clear they share a mutual love and respect for one another despite their differences, in stark contrast to the bitter national political climate.
The women believe people must begin to seek and discuss facts, while being open to others viewpoints, instead of having conversations that are simply driven by emotion. But how do we get there? The women say both sides must stop talking at one another and start listening to each other.
As impossible as it may seem, Bernice and Alveda King believe it is possible for the nation to heal, one conversation at a time. “It just goes back to being open minded and having the courage to listen to other perspectives because you might hear something that might connect to something you believe and find a common pathway forward.”