BY DIANE CAMERON Choices, depending on whom you ask are a privilege, a right or a source of regret when made errantly. Paper or plastic, sweet or unsweetened, first class or coach and the list goes on and on. However, there is one choice which charts the destiny of our lives and we are neither consulted for our approval nor queried for suggestions. We are born into a family lineage not of our choosing… History has recorded the births and passages of some of the most influential as well as those who were able to pass from life to death in total obscurity. The famous and the infamous, those whose human contributions benefited the society in which they lived contrasting those who left no positive epitaph. Yolanda Denise King, the first born child of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King celebrated her sunrise November, 1955 and transitioned to her earthly sunset May 15th 2007. Born into a family with a father who had a dream and a mother who carried the grace of royalty, African royalty…..African-American royalty. Their "palace” was located in Montgomery, Alabama on Dexter Avenue. The “kingdom” was anywhere poor and oppressed people existed and their “loyal subjects” were men, women, boys & girls of all races, ages and nationalities who caught the essence of the dream and worked to usher it to reality. Choices, privilege, right or regret, nonetheless, who would choose a life so filled with such turbulence, unless the angels had made preparations prior to entering the earth. Yolanda was two weeks old and probably being rocked in her mother’s arms, when on the other side of town, another icon of the struggle affectionately known as the Mother of the Civil rights movement was slated to rock the entire world. As Rose Parks defied the Jim Crow mentality of 1955 coming home after a long hard day of work declaring she was too tired that day to stand on that Montgomery, Alabama city bus. The ripples on the water of that choice are still felt 51 years later.

At 10 weeks old when at home with her mother the family “palace” was bombed at the same time her father was attending a boycott rally. For Yolanda the term “it all started in my childhood” is an understatement……this was truly only the beginning. Most young girls at 12 are just beginning to go through the teen-age wonder years, family trips, giggling on the phone with girlfriends, noticing the change of their physical appearance and embracing the world with dreams and hopes of their own. In 1968 at 12 years old Yolanda King sat somberly with her family at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia during her father’s funeral. As Yolanda blossomed into womanhood and traveled her destiny, her journey immortalized the Civil Rights Movement through her love for the cultural arts using theater and prose to bring to life events from the struggle. Perhaps the greatest script she carried out was the one written for her before her birth. In this divine script, she was the principal character exemplifying the role with dignity, grace and courage. It goes without saying that fame carries the burden of extra scrutiny, a higher standard and a call to a life beyond reproach. Ms. King rose to the challenge. Her inheritance was not a king’s ransom, but instead the servants heart that under girded her father and the dignity that personified her mother. She leaves her own personal legacy, a dream Yolanda style…. a smile, a kind word, a squeeze of the hand, a dignified nod, illuminating the stages of the world and captivating audiences as history unfolded with the truth as she lived it. In the successive line of royalty a King’ Daughter is a Princess. In a few days we will lay our Princess to rest. She will join King Martin who departed his earthly throne in 1968, and Queen Coretta who entered Pilgrim’s rest in 2006. Ms. King will receive her heavenly reward, the promised gift of rest and eternal life…for the weary and heavy laden….. Yolanda was a Princess, our Princess….the Daughter of a King.

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