LINCOLN — Alveda King is speaking for what she believes in. It’s in her blood.
The niece of Martin Luther King Jr. is the keynote speaker for this weekend’s Building a Civilization of Love & Life Pro-Life Conference. Nebraska’s Catholic bishops present the annual conference, which began Friday and ends today in Lincoln.
“Life is a civil right from inception to death,” King said in an interview before her Friday evening speech.
King is the pastoral associate and director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life and is involved in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. She had two abortions as a young adult, and blames the procedures for a subsequent miscarriage, cervical surgery and a breast cancer scare.
“She’s got a very unique and compelling story and background for the pro-life movement,” said Greg Schleppenbach, state director of the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro Life Activities. Schleppenbach particularly noted King’s family ties to the civil rights movement.
“We believe that this is the civil rights movement of our time,” he said.
A nondenominational Christian, King grew up around both abortion rights supporters and opponents — her uncle, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., opposed abortion while his wife, Coretta Scott King, supported abortion rights.
It was an issue even before Alveda King had taken a breath. In 1950, when her mother found out she was pregnant, she contemplated an abortion — until Alveda King’s grandfather, Martin Luther King Sr., stepped in.
“He told my mama, ‘She’s not a blob of flesh, she’s a little girl with bright skin and bright hair. That’s my granddaughter,’” said King, who credits her grandfather for saving her life. “And here I am.”
Those who attend the conference will largely be people who already are invested and interested in abortion issues. Schleppenbach and King hope to inspire them to continue fighting against abortion in the national debate.
“Our ultimate goal is not to make abortion illegal,” Schleppenbach said. “It’s to make it unthinkable.”