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SIMMONS: Bernice King set the tone amid politics’ famous faces
Question of the Day
The events on the Mall marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was rather solemn until the presidential trio and Michelle Obama took the stage.
It's always engaging watching past and current presidents at events, including funerals.
Let's be honest: If you were expecting fiery, engaging orations, forget about it.
That's where I was until the Rev. Bernice King and the always-colorful Bill Clinton took the stage.
When an assassin's shots felled her dad on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., Ms. King was a little thing, and her father the "faith leader" would surely be proud of her.
A conservative Baptist minister in her own right, she opened Wednesday's ceremonies.
The youngest of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King's four children stood where her father had stood 50 years ago to deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech (a seated, solemn-faced Abraham Lincoln in the background).
Her delivery wasn't smooth, like some silky talking preachers of today are.
But you could feel her passion — moved, most certainly, by that same spirit that lifted and guided her dad to lead Southern Christians, Jews and members of other faithful flocks to the Lincoln Memorial.
The crowd wasn't as large on Wednesday as it was back in 1963 (which should have been anticipated since the school year arrives earlier these days and it was predicted that the sun would even be hesitant to show herself all day long).
As for the people who did see the ceremony, I hope they noticed with whom Ms. King shared the stage — mostly speakers from quite different walks of life than those in 1963.
Where her father shared speaking time with other men and women of the civil rights movement, Ms. King shared a stage with some people who want to continue the dream, too. Ms. King was there with a Kennedy and a Johnson, the current president and two former presidents, a chieftain of the civil rights movement who became a member of Congress and members of her own family.
What was striking was that all those officials were Democrats.
And while Caroline, the Kennedy, and Lynda, the Johnson, easily could be considered the representatives of the two men responsible for ushering through two of the most important pieces of legislation tethered directly to the movement, it was Ms. King's characterization of her father and something Mr. Clinton did that are memorable.
A photograph on the front page of this newspaper represents an image I just can't shake. Front left to right are President Obama, former President Jimmy Carter, first lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
They are all smiles and holding onto one another.
And if you look close enough you'll see the left-handed Mr. Clinton with his right hand placed on the low hip of Mrs. Obama.
Bubba will be Bubba.
Seriously, you can take from the commemorative events what you will.
And if you didn't hear or see Ms. King, whose conservative values sometimes rile gays, women's libbers and progressives, I ask that you remember two words she uttered Wednesday.
She talked about freedom, one of the key themes of the march 50 years ago, saying, "If freedom is going to ring in Libya, in Syria, in Egypt, in Florida, then we must reach across the table, feed each other and let freedom ring," Ms. King said.
And of her father she simply said, "faith leader."
That's the 50-year marker.
Faith shall lead the way — to freedom, to justice and to world peace.
• Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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