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AMERICAN MORNING

Interview With Yolanda King

Aired January 19, 2004 - 09:50   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Today across the country Americans celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King's eldest daughter, Yolanda, is working to inspire future generations to celebrate diversity. She has helped put together a collection of stories and poems written by people from across the world called "Open My Eyes, Open My Soul: Celebrating Our Common Humanity."
I spoke with her recently and I asked her what inspired her to compile this book of stories and poems.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

YOLANDA KING, DAUGHTER OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: I was approached by Elodia Tate, who became my co-creator, with the idea. And a lot of people approached me with ideas but this really resonated because I've been doing this kind of work since I was a kid, really. Focusing on our common humanity, on the things that bring us together, really celebrating the fact that we are one, that we come from the same source.

So it made a lot of sense and we started on this journey. And a year and three months later, here's the book.

COLLINS: Let me ask you, this country is obviously a very different place, one very different from the country that your father knew back in his time. We have an African-American secretary of state, as well as a national security adviser, Condoleezza rice, who is African-American. The Southeastern Conference just hired its first African-American football coach.

What would your father think about this country at this time?

KING: Well, I certainly think -- I know that he would feel very encouraged by what has happened over the last 35 years, 36 years since he left us. There has certainly been a lot of progress in the area of equality for all. People building bridges, coming together in communities all across this country. I get a chance to participate in activities like that, and I know that it's a better day.

However, he would be disheartened by the fact that there is still far too much intolerance, and dissension between people and races and religions and cultures. And he would be continuing to urge us to go beyond that and find ways that we can come together.

COLLINS: You think people are talking enough with one another?

KING: Well, I do think that there is more of it, but not enough, not enough. That's why we put together this book to encourage people to -- real life stories of people coming together, finding a heart connection.

COLLINS: Quickly, tell me what you want people to remember about your father.

KING: That he really just wanted to create a world where everybody, every child could have, could be the best they could possibly be. That's really what he was hoping -- trying to move us to. And we got -- we're moving, but we've got a ways to go.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: That was Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was 39-years-old when he was assassinated in 1968.

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