In what is likely the cutest breaking news of the day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s granddaughter Yolanda Renee King led a cheer to honor her late grandfather outside the civil rights icon's memorial in Washington, D.C. While it has been slightly uncomfortable to celebrate MLK Day not long after the president came under fire for racist remarks, Yolanda's hopeful chant will definitely help restore your faith in humanity.
NBC News shared the clip of Yolanda's cheer on Twitter, showing her gleefully leading the crowd. "Spread the word!" she shouts. Her words are bellowed back to her by the audience. "Have you heard? We... Are going to be... A great generation!"
Also present at the memorial on MLK Day for the annual wreath-laying ceremony was King's oldest son, Martin Luther King III, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and FBI Director Christopher Wray. Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, was also there.
Other organizations that showed support include IMPACT, a group focused on economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement, The Memorial Foundation, Faith and Politics Institute, and the Asian American Lead School. The 2018 wreath-laying ceremony commemorated what would've been King's 89th birthday.
"Much comes to mind as we stand here," King III said during the ceremony. He went on to thank Johnson and the National Memorial Project Foundation. "Had it not been for this great organization that my father happened to have been a member of, this memorial would not be here." The memorial, located in West Potomac Park, was erected in August 20ll. It was carved by sculptor Lei Yixin and inspired by a quote from King's "I Have a Dream" speech: "Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope."
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of King's assassination, on April 4, 1968. King III asked the crowds gathered on Monday to assess where we are as a society half a century after his father's death. King III said:
The question becomes, what will we do as communities across America to fulfill and envision and make the dream become a reality? I'm not here to talk about what has not happened, because we know what has not happened. I'm here to look to the future, to figure out how we as a nation can come together.
He went on to say that we need to address "the triple evils of poverty," which include "racism, militarism, and violence." King III said it is unacceptable that more than 40 million Americans live in poverty. "Something is wrong with that," he said. "Martin Luther King Jr., I believe, would be speaking out and saying poverty is not gonna happen, we're gonna do something about it."
In addition to honoring her father, King's daughter Bernice also spoke about her mother, civil rights activist Coretta Scott King. "As you honor my father today, please remember and honor my mother, as well," Bernice tweeted. "She was the architect of the King Legacy and founder of @TheKingCenter, which she founded two months after Daddy died. Without #CorettaScottKing, there would be no #MLKDay."
Bernice also tweeted a quote of her dad's that seems more relevant now than ever. “We have got to have more dedicated, consecrated, intelligent, and sincere leadership," King said in a speech, "The Birth of a New Age," in 1956. "This is a tense period through which we are passing, this period of transition and there is a need all over the nation for leaders to carry on.”
This year, King III and Bernice stressed that they don't want to remind the American people of how far we haven't come since the assassination of their father, but rather, how hopeful they are for the future. The hashtag they're using is "
#MLK50Forward." It's a way of honoring King's legacy, while remaining hopeful for the future.