It seems only fitting on the 47th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s march on Washington for a member of his family to speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
However, it won't be his son, Martin Luther King III, who will be in Washington Saturday but will speak at an event at the Tidal Basin, where the proposed MLK Memorial is being erected.
Instead, speaking on the memorial's steps as part of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally will be the slain civil rights leader's niece, Alveda King.
“People in Atlanta knew I was coming,” King told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Friday from Washington, where she was preparing for her speech. “People are trying to make me a polarizing figure, but this is America. There are several marches all over, honoring my uncle [Saturday]. This is one of them.”
The daughter of King’s younger brother, A.D. King, Alveda King has never been afraid to take positions that have been right of center. Although she was once elected to the Georgia House of Representatives as a Democrat, she has been a Republican appointee to several panels.
She is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, a conservative think tank. She has even gone as far as to imply that her uncle was a Republican, which has brought her scorn from the left.
She also is a strong anti-abortion advocate. In a recent speech, she said her uncle was “pro-life.”
In the past, she has called taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools “the civil rights movement of the '90s.”
On gay rights, she once said, “The answer to homosexuality is the love of God.” And just this month she said, “traditional marriage remains the guard against human extinction.”
Critics have said her controversial stances have hijacked her family’s legacy -- a claim she called “ludicrous.”
"Uncle Martin and my father were blood brothers. How can I hijack something that belongs to me? I am an heir to the King family legacy," she said. "I have a right to stand at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of my uncle's ‘I have a dream' speech.
"The dream has yet to be realized," she said. "That dream is in my genes and I carry forward in the fight for equality and justice for all blacks, including those in the womb. My dad and my uncle gave their lives to ensure that the day would come when blacks would be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. If they were here, I know they would stand with me in this fight for the lives of those most vulnerable among us.”
So, 47 years after King's famous speech, two family members will be on opposite ends of the National Mall, delivering their interpretation of his legacy. Attempts to contact other members of the King family were unsuccessful. Several calls to Martin King III were not returned this week, and Alveda King said she doubts she will see him in Washington.
“The only reason I won’t see him while he is here, is because we will be in different places at the same time,” she said. “This is America. Free speech is fine. I don’t enter into who is right or who is wrong.”