Martin Luther King Jr.'s Children Reflect On His Legacy
ATLANTA, Georgia - It was 50 years ago Wednesday that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
King's three surviving children talked with CBS News' Michelle Miller about his legacy in their first joint interview since their mother died 12 years ago.
Martin Luther King III was 10 when their father died. Dexter was 7 and Bernice was 5.
"It's hard to forget the images and sometimes I have to catch myself because I get emotional," Dexter said. "Even to this day, when I see a breaking newsflash, I have PTSD. So even though it's been 50 years, it doesn't seem like it. For me it seems like it was yesterday."
"Bernice, what do you remember?" Miller asked.
"What I vividly remember is the day of the funeral," Bernice said. "I'm sitting right on the corner here at Ebenezer, I'm in my mother's lap, and mom said he couldn't speak to me, but a child knows the dad's voice and if you look at the film I'm looking around like this, like where is he? So I remember that to this day, in this sanctuary."
" was a time when your father's popularity was waning," Miller said.
"Mom used to say something like, 'Because his voice is silenced, now he's loved,'" Martin said.
"What does that mean?" asked Miller.
"We've sort of dumbed down dad to some degree," Martin replied. "He was a doer, not just a dreamer. He talked about what could become but he left us a blueprint for how that could be manifested. Dad was really radical and revolutionary and America doesn't understand that, yet."
"I have to ask this question of you. Did you have to lose your father for the nation and the world to appreciate him the way they do today?" Miller asked.
"You look at the greater good in terms of the sacrifice," Dexter said. "If he had lived, I'm certain he would not have been as effective. Because he gave his life, he was martyred, and then you remember all of the positive things that he left behind."