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NNPA Honors MLK III with Legacy Award

The National Newspaper Publishers Association honored Martin Luther King III on Friday with its 2017 Lifetime Legacy Award as the group wrapped up its annual summer conference at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor.

King, the eldest son of the iconic civil rights leader, said the tribute tops all others he’s received because the Black Press has meant much to his family, particularly his father as he fought for freedom, justice and equality.

“The NNPA is particularly a most impactful institution our community has and every week the newspapers of the Black Press reach at least 22 million people in our communities and every week the Black Press tackles issues that we deal with and that we cannot find in the mainstream newspapers,” King said just before going onstage to accept his award.

“The Black Press provides the information that’s needed for African-Americans,” he said. “I would say that during the civil rights era my father would not have been successful if not for the African-American press, who had their ears to the ground to what was important in our community.”

King, who attended the award ceremony with family members, graduated from Morehouse College, his father’s alma mater, with a degree in political science.

While at Morehouse, King was selected by President Jimmy Carter to serve in the United States delegation to the Republic of Congo for participation in their centennial celebration ceremonies.

Like his father, King participated in many protests for civil rights. One of his more notable acts of civil disobedience came in 1985 when he was arrested at the South African Embassy in Washington protesting against apartheid and for the release of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.

“This is a special time,” King said Friday as he spoke to publishers and those in attendance at the award ceremony.

Showing a lighter side, he quipped, “I like the word legacy, but it means you are getting older.”

King, the former president of the legendary Southern Christian Leadership Conference, also noted the changing world with social media and how it’s difficult to understand the acronyms used mostly by young individuals because of the 140-character Twitter limit.

“I have to ask the kids to tell me what these things mean because I don’t do Twitter or Facebook,” he said.

Striking a more serious tone, King implored young African-Americans that “we must do better. We have to educate our community. We, as a community, have the ability to do much more,” he said.

In an effort to help African-Americans realize and capitalize on the vast spending power in the community, King founded Realizing the Dream, a foundation that focused on helping community-based organizers to ignite investment in local neighborhoods and to foster peaceful coexistence within America and abroad.

“If we decide to divest, or even talk about [boycotting] some of the companies where are spending billions of our dollars, we won’t see insensitivity,” King said.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., president and CEO of the NNPA, said that the organization was especially proud and delighted to present the prestigious award to King.

“For decades, more than anyone else, Martin Luther King III has continued to personify and represent the living legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for freedom, justice and equality,” Chavis said. “He has carried on his father’s legacy quite honorably, quite admirable, and quite successful,” he said.
As former president and CEO of the King Center, King has spoken on behalf of former President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention where he highlighted the need for improved health care, quality education, housing, technology and equal justice.

He also served on the board of directors for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and co-founded BounceTV, the first independently-owned digital multicast network featuring around-the-clock programming geared toward African-Americans.

“I remember going to my mother’s alma matter in Ohio and seeing the statue of Horace Mann which was inscribed with the words, ‘be ashamed to die until you have won some kind of victory for humanity,'” King said. “As a child, those are words that are very powerful. As an adult, I say we can win victory at schools, we can win victory in our places of worship, we can win victory in our cities, our counties, our states, our country and some may win in our world.

“I say, be ashamed to die until you have done something to make your community better,” he said.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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