Martin Luther King III is the eldest son and oldest living child of late civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. On Tuesday he spoke at an event where panelists discussed the political and economic status of blacks and Latinos in the United States.
That’s where we found him for a quick Q&A.
Martin Luther King III
Qcitymetro: How are you feeling going into this election.
King: I’m feeling hopeful but concerned. It’s been a difficult three and a half years for the nation, and because the nation is split down the middle, that should give us all pause and concern about the prospects of the next four years. I think this is one of the most critical elections that we will have for the next…this could determine certain kinds of policies for the next 50 years.
Q. It seems we as voters hear at every election that this one is the most crucial. What makes 2012 so crucial?
K. We’ve already seen what the courts potentially will do. It really is a matter of who gets appointed to the mid-level as well as to the Supreme Court. There may be some Supreme Court seats being vacated, and the court determines in a sense the direction that the country goes. This is 47 years since the Voting Rights Act was passed, and the Voting Rights Act was to empower, to give people the right to vote, but a number of states – I think it’s 33 — have passed or proposed legislation to make it more difficult for people to vote. –47 years after the Voting Rights Act. And the legislatures in most of those states happen to be led by Republicans. So it’s clear that if you’re trying to keep people from voting, that ‘s just the tip of the iceberg of what could come. The president hasn’t had a full opportunity to change things in this country based on when he entered the arena. He entered where we were losing hundreds of thousands of job, and now, while we are not where we’d like to be or where we can be, we are slowly making progress. So this is a most critical election.
Q. If the president is re-elected but with a Republican Congress, do you think he could be more successful in a second term?
K. That’s a very good question. I don’t know that I know the answer to that. What I would say is that all elected officials are going to have to come to the table to figure out how we govern. That’s why it’s so important for people across this nation to come out and exercise their right to vote. The tragedy is that so many people still will not vote. When things are really, really good, people don’t vote, and when things are really, really bad they don’t vote as they should. They think they have reasons not to. It is my hope and my desire and what I plan to do as I travel around the country is continue to bring the baton of why it’s important for us to vote. People died so that we’d have that right; we should at least exercise it.
Q. Do you think the president can recreate the level of voter excitement we saw in 2008?
I don’t know if you can ever reproduce euphoria, but what you can produce is winnable results. I think the president is poised to win. I’d be shocked if it wasn’t very, very close. This is going to be a very, very close race. I think the issue of Medicare…because of the positions Congressman Ryan has taken, which are totally extreme, it creates opportunities in some of the swing states like Florida where you have a number of seniors. I think there are a number of opportunities that are created. There is seven or eight to 10 percent of the vote that will decide this election.
Q. How is the family?
K. Doing well. Thank you for asking.