Dr. Bernice A. King, Daughter of MLK Jr., Speaks at LVC

Rev. Dr. Bernice King speaks on stage during PHRC Social Justice Lecture Series at Lebanon Valley College on September 15, 2023. (Photo by Lisa Lake/Getty Images for Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission)

Lebanon Valley College welcomed Dr. Bernice A. King, daughter of the late Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, for a Social Justice Lecture Series presentation on Friday, Sept. 15, in Frederic K. Miller Chapel.

The event, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC), served as the fall kickoff to LVC’s Symposium on Inclusive Excellence and this year’s theme of Belonging.

At a special reception before her talk, Dr. King was awarded PHRC’s highest honor, the Social Justice Award.

Dr. King is a global thought leader, strategist, solutionist, orator, peace advocate, and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center), which was founded by her mother as the official living memorial to the life, work, and legacy of her father.

In a moderated conversation with PHRC Executive Director Chad Lassiter, Dr. King spoke about her path to becoming an activist and her family’s influence on her journey.

“I was born into a family that understood the importance of serving humanity,” she said. “I come from three generations of activists. My family has this long lineage of fighting for what’s just and right.”

Despite this, Dr. King admits to running from her “calling” for a while when she was younger, not wanting to live in her father’s shadow. To pave her path as “just Bernice,” she earned a degree in psychology and later attended Law School and Divinity School earning a dual degree (Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Law).

Eventually, however, the calling was too strong to ignore. Dr King picked up the torch from her parents to continue championing the message of creating a beloved community—a community that is not without conflict but addresses this conflict in a manner that leaves one’s dignity and humanity intact.

“Evil is always going to be present as you seek to do good. But no matter who people are, they are part of your family,” Dr. King said. “Forgiveness doesn’t mean to excuse. We don’t seek to destroy people. We seek to destroy injustice.”

Dr. Felicia Brown-Haywood, LVC vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusive excellence, was pleased to see hundreds of members of the LVC community and surrounding area participating in this exciting opportunity.

“As a prominent figure in civil rights, social justice, and leadership, Dr. King’s insights inspire, educate, and motivate us all,” said Brown-Haywood.

“This event greatly enriched the experience for our learning, teaching, and working community, and it offered a unique opportunity to engage with an influential thought leader and contribute to meaningful discussions that resonate with our academic pursuits.”



Through her work at The King Center, Dr. Bernice A. King educates youth and adults around the world about the nonviolent principles and strategies modeled by her parents. Under her leadership, the Center has implemented numerous initiatives reaching over 500,000 people around the world, including the Beloved Community Leadership Academy, Students with King, NV365 Education & Training, and The Beloved Community Talks, a courageous conversations platform about the difficult racial and social justice issues impacting our world.

Dr. King holds a Doctorate of Law Degree from Emory University, A Master of Divinity Degree from Candler School of Theology at Emory University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Spelman College. She is also the recipient of numerous other awards and honorary degrees.



The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) enforces state laws that prohibit discrimination. This includes (1) the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA), which covers discrimination in employment, housing, commercial property, education, and public accommodations, and (2) the Pennsylvania Fair Educational Opportunities Act (PFEOA), which is specific to postsecondary education and secondary vocational and trade schools. As Pennsylvania’s civil rights leader, it is the PHRC’s vision that all people in Pennsylvania will live, work, and learn free from unlawful discrimination.



The annual Symposium on Inclusive Excellence encourages students and staff to learn, grow, and commit as a campus to comprehensive and continuing engagement with our diverse community. An entire day in February is reserved for a featured keynote speaker or expert panelists and educational sessions that inspire open dialogue.

The Committee for Inclusive and Intercultural Learning (IIL) will host the 2024 Symposium on Inclusive Excellence core event on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. This year’s Symposium theme is Belonging and will feature Dr. Terrell Strayhorn as keynote speaker. Faculty, staff, and students will also dedicate their time to providing the LVC Community with various educational and interactive afternoon sessions to further our commitment to Inclusive Excellence. The 2023–24 Symposium series will conclude with a social praxis-themed event in the spring.

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