At 13, Yolanda Renee King is following in the activist footsteps of her grandparents, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Coretta Scott King. She has some ideas of how to honor the holiday that bears her grandfather's name, NBC News reports.
Yolanda, the daughter of Martin Luther King III and Andrea Waters King, believes that MLK Day is a call to spotlight the importance of voting rights. She believes that young people should be engaged in the political process. Last August, she was one of the speakers at the National Action Network's March On for Voting Rights event in Washington D.C.
“My family and I have been working on getting two major bills passed that can make it easier for people to vote because one of the fundamental rights is the right to vote. Everybody needs to have access to voting,” she said.
While activism is synonymous with the King name, she said it was never forced upon her by her family; it was just her natural response to serve others.
“There are even times my parents have told me about, that I don’t even remember ... for instance, every day, we would drive to school and we would see homeless people,” she said, “And when I was 3 or 4, I was already talking about them, and asking, ‘What are we going to do to help?”
At home and in school, Yolanda has been learning about the significant contributions of her family and now understands the great sacrifices they made to uplift Black people against the forces of oppression.
“Throughout my life, my parents have told me that ‘your family has done some really phenomenal work.’ And ‘you are the granddaughter of really phenomenal people who changed this country and the world,’” she said, “I didn’t really understand the significance of it until I got older.”
“MLK Day is not a day off. It should be treated as a day on. It’s a day of service. I think that instead of idolizing my grandfather, pick a service project and do something to help the community,” she added. “It could be something as simple as picking up trash around your neighborhood park.”
On MLK Day, Yolanda will be speaking at the Washington National Cathedra. She hopes that young people will use the power of their voice to bring about the change they want to see in the world.
“You have to go out and support those movements,” she said. “Although you may not be old enough to vote, you are the future. You and your decisions determine the future of the world.”