Kimberlé Crenshaw, The Loss of Martin Luther King Jr. and My Father | MAKERS Moment

Kimberlé Crenshaw, The Loss of Martin Luther King Jr. and My Father | MAKERS Moment

Video Transcript

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW: I think I was 9 or 10. We were all really excited around that time about the Civil Rights Movement and what was happening. And we'd all come and watch Martin Luther King or James Baldwin, whoever was there articulating the legitimate expectations that Black people had to be treated as full citizens.

But then Martin Luther King was assassinated. And it's the first time I saw my father cry. We all went to a memorial service that was organized by some of the local Black activists. And we were all sitting there, kids from like kindergarten to maybe 9th, 10th grade.

And the organizers asked if anyone had anything to say. And before I knew it, I just stood up. And everyone was looking at me. And at that moment, I thought, oh God, what do I have to say? And finally, I downloaded something that I must have heard that morning on the radio about the need to follow in Martin Luther King's footsteps, the fact that one bullet can't hold us back, and we needed to keep moving on as a tribute to him.

My parents were just-- I mean, they were still sad about Martin Luther King but also really proud of me. And my dad just picked me up and squeezed me so tight. I just, I thought-- I thought he was going to break me. And he had tears in his eyes and.

I think I probably remember that more than anything because he died a little over a year later. So the loss of Martin Luther King and the loss of my father, who was in law school at the time, those two losses seared in me a determination to complete, to move forward with King's legacy and with my father's desire to go to law school, with an idea that learning the law was the secret to being an effective advocate for social justice.