Martin Luther King Jr.'s Daughter Says Racism, Not Critical Race Theory, a Problem in U.S.

The Reverend Bernice King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is urging people to redirect their anger at "false narratives" surrounding critical race theory to real-world racism.

While speaking at Atlanta's King Center on Monday, Reverend King discussed how lawmakers make critical race theory a more prevalent issue than it actually is. The nation needs to have a shift in priorities that, as she said, "helps us understand we can't commemorate my father on the one hand while also promoting false narratives under the banner of critical race theory."

Critical race theory is the academic framework that racism exists in many structures and systems throughout American history. Republican lawmakers have often used the term as a catch-all for education that involves teaching about racism.

"CRT is not the problem," she said during her address. "Racism is the problem, poverty or extreme materialism is the problem, and militarism, war is the problem."

This address was not the first time that King has spoken against the modern interpretation of critical race theory. She posted on Twitter in November that Republicans were now using the term as a "fearmongering" tool.

"The fearmongering regarding CRT is aimed at banning all teaching of substance on the past and current devastation of white supremacy/racism," she wrote.

Bernice King Speaking
Dr. Bernice A. King urged people not to lose sight of racism's presence in the United States during an address on Monday. Above, King speaks during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service on January 18, 2021, in Atlanta. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images

King said there is a "very urgent need" for voting legislation, and that it is "crucial to humanity across the globe that the United States of America stands as a democratic nation."

Her remarks came ahead of a scheduled visit Tuesday to Georgia by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about voting rights.

"I also know that there are many people who are not as urgently concerned about that unfortunately," King said during the address to announce events for the upcoming holiday in honor of her father. "There's a wind of discontent for some and a wave of apathy for others that has settled into the hearts and minds of not only an increasing number of people in the United States, but throughout the world."

Voting legislation backed by Democrats is currently stalled in the U.S. Senate in the face of Republican opposition, and the party is mounting an effort to change the chamber's rules to get it passed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has set the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on January 17 as the deadline to either pass the voting legislation or consider revising the rules. King said she was frustrated by the lack of progress on voting rights, but she believed legislation would pass and urged dialogue with Republicans.

"This is not just a Black issue," she said. "This is an issue about democracy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bernice King at Memorial
Dr. Bernice A. King gave remarks in Atlanta urging people to focus on racism rather than "false narratives" around critical race theory. Above, King is seen laying a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 2021 King Holiday Observance Beloved Community Commemorative Service on January 18, 2021, in Atlanta. Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images