Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s son, King III, seeks unity and bridge-building after Trump meeting

Martin Luther King III (center)

ATLANTA/NEW YORK – Martin Luther King’s daughter said on Monday that “God can triumph over Trump,” but the slain civil rights leader’s son struck a conciliatory tone after meeting with the president-elect on the U.S. holiday that honors their father. The comments by the children of King, who championed racial justice until he was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39, punctuated an imbroglio involving Donald Trump and African-American congressman John Lewis that broke out over the weekend. The dispute started when Lewis, 76, a contemporary of King’s who endured beatings and jail time in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, said in a televised interview that he saw Trump’s election as illegitimate because of Russian interference in the campaign. That drew a scornful response from Trump. Bernice King, King’s youngest daughter, told a gathering at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta not to give up hope and “Don’t be afraid of who sits in the White House.” “God can triumph over Trump,” she said, drawing a standing ovation, one of several times she was interrupted by thunderous applause. The service at the church where King once preached takes place every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day, a federal holiday honoring his life. This year the holiday fell days before Barack Obama ends his second term as the country’s first African-American president. Trump takes the oath of office as his successor on Friday. Trump, who won only 8 percent of the black vote, offered praise for King in a Twitter post on Monday, a few hours before meeting King’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III, at his Trump Tower offices in New York. “Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!” Trump tweeted. Trump and King III emerged from an elevator together, shaking hands. Trump said goodbye to King, then returned to the elevator without answering questions. King said they had a constructive meeting to discuss how to improve the U.S. voting system, which King considers broken, but he skirted questions about whether he was offended by Trump’s comments on Lewis. “First of all I think that in the heat of emotion a lot of things get said on both sides. I think at some point I bridge-build. The goal is to bring America together,” King told reporters. Lewis did not mention Trump in a speech about the civil rights struggle to honor King, who would have turned 88 on Sunday, but he urged young black Americans to consider voting a “sacred” act. “We all must become participants in the democratic process. When you get old enough to register to vote, go and register and vote,” Lewis said in a half-hour address in Miami. “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent instrument or tool that we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.”