United States

Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center, Welcomes King and Queen of the Netherlands, Addresses Historical and Systemic Injustices of Slavery

Atlanta, GA., June 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of The King Center, and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King, founder of The King Center, had the honor of welcoming King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands during their official visit to the United States. Also participating in the visit was Aruba’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Communication and Sustainable Development, Geoffrey Wever, its Minister of Tourism and Public Health, Danguillaume Oduber, as well as Curaçao’s Minister of Economic Development, Ruisandro Cijntje.

The visit continues the relationship noted in the book My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr., where Coretta Scott King traveled to Amsterdam in 1970 and met Queen Juliana, the grandmother of King Willem-Alexander. During the global book tour Mrs. King promoted the message of nonviolence and unconditional love. Twelve years later, in 1982, Queen Beatrix, returned favor and visited Georgia hosted by then Mayor Andrew Young and Coretta Scott King. The Royal Family laid a wreath honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work on nonviolence. As part of that welcome the Queen and Prince Claus were later regaled with songs in Dutch by children from The King Center’s Early Learning Center. 

Today’s visit, which also included a wreath laying by the Royal couple, is part of a United States tour as the Dutch nation highlights the strong bilateral ties between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United States, and its economic relations with Georgia. The visit holds particular significance as it continues the Kingdom’s reflection and acknowledgment of the painful legacy of slavery that has impacted nations around the world.

During their visit, His Majesty King Willem-Alexander issued a heartfelt apology on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for the historical injustices and suffering inflicted by the transatlantic slave trade. This moment of reckoning is a crucial step toward healing and reconciliation.

In a private conversation with Their Majesties, Dr. King expressed deep appreciation for the apology and took the opportunity to advocate for concrete actions to deepen dialogue, restore justice and promote systemic reforms. Dr. King presented several key considerations to King Willem-Alexander: Dr. King requested a meeting to discuss assisting the Kingdom with several considerations to deepen their commitment to nonviolence and restorative justice.

  1. Educational Programs and Historical Acknowledgment: Dr. King offered collaboration with Dutch institutions and Parliament to host summits, develop curricula and resources that deepen understanding of the experiences of enslaved people and their descendants.
  2. Economic Reparations and Development Initiatives: To address the pervasive economic disparities rooted in the legacy of slavery, Dr. King urged growth of a reparations fund aimed at supporting community development projects, educational scholarships, and economic opportunities for descendants of enslaved people in Suriname, Aruba, Curacao, and St Maarten.
  3. Institutional Reforms and Policy Changes: Dr. King called for continued efforts to address systemic inequalities and promote social justice within the islands and the broader Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Dr. Bernice A. King stated, “The apology from His Majesty King Willem-Alexander is a profound, necessary and welcomed gesture. However, words must be accompanied by actions. We are committed to working together to achieve meaningful reconciliation by addressing the persistent effects of slavery imposed on the lives of millions of descendants of enslaved people and to build a beloved community worldwide based on justice, equity, and mutual respect.”

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center) is a 501(c) (3) organization established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The King Center is the official living memorial and programmatic nonprofit organization committed to educating the world on the life, legacy, and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center serves to inspire new generations to carry forward King’s unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today. The King Center’s premiere educational initiative, Nonviolence365®, is based on Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy and methodology. His teachings engage participants from various sectors of society, including emerging and next generation leaders, in modules and exercises that enhance communication, leadership, interpersonal and conflict reconciliation skills. To learn more about The King Center, please visit thekingcenter.org.

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CONTACT: Momina Bryant
The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
USA +14044371206
[email protected]

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