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Rodney Ho covers TV and radio, from Atlanta’s stations to the hottest “American Idol" news.

Fox News hires Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece as a contributor

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Friday, March 6, 2015

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., has signed on as a regular contributor to Fox News.

King, 64, will offer social and cultural commentary on Fox News' day-side and prime-time programs.

She founded Alveda King Ministries and serves as director of African-American outreach at Priests for Life. Her parents were the late civil rights activist Rev. A. D. King and wife Naomi Barber King, who is still alive.

My colleague Ernie Suggs, who has covered the King family for years, said she gets along with everyone in the family although her political and social views don't always match.

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For many decades, she has been a strong right-to-life advocate. And in recent years, she's been vocal against gay marriage.

In January, she told the AJC: "I fully support God's biblical plan for marriage, which does not include divorce, does not include adultery, does not include fornication, does not include same-sex marriage and polygamy. Liberty does not always mean doing what feels good to people."

King has written several books, her most recent, “King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper.”

Fox chairman Roger Ailes, in a press release, said: “Alveda has brilliantly carried the legacy of the King family to the next generation and has been a source of inspiration for many Americans. Her passion and mission for social change will be a valuable contribution to our network

Here's a profile AJC's Ken Foskett wrote in 1998 about Alveda:

For those who thought the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was all about liberal causes, meet Alveda King, King's 46-year-old niece. King calls taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools "the civil rights movement of the '90s." As for gay rights, King says, "The answer to homosexuality is the love of God."

With the help of black and white activists, the soft-spoken and devout Atlantan has become a potent standard-bearer for school choice and other conservative causes, popping up around the country to put a different spin on King's legacy.

In Washington last year, she stood with House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to promote school vouchers for Washington and appeared in a television advertisement urging congressional support. King was pictured in the ad with a portrait of her uncle over her shoulder.

Last fall, she campaigned against a referendum to protect gays from discrimination in Washington state. Earlier in the summer, she called for a boycott of Disney because of "Ellen" and other programs that feature homosexuals.

On Friday, the kickoff of the King holiday observance, King attended the Republican National Committee meeting in Indian Wells, Calif. There, she presented a certificate of appreciation from her nonprofit "King for America" to insurance magnate J. Patrick Rooney, one of the GOP's largest contributors.

To supporters, King is the vanguard of an effort to restore faith in the civil rights movement. To critics, King has used her uncle's name and twisted his legacy to support her own advancement.

"If Dr. King were alive today, he would not be endorsing or subscribing to what his niece is doing. I think he would be ashamed of what she is doing, " says Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who marched with King. "It's painful for me to say this, but I think she is being used and exploited by the most right-wing elements in American society."

To critics, King turns the other cheek.

"I know some people don't like me because I'm different, " says King, who earns her living as a business professor at Atlanta Metropolitan College. "That's OK. I've expected that, and it's all right."

The story of how King, considered a "progressive Democrat" during her service as a state representative from 1979 to 1982, became the poster child for conservatism is part personal odyssey and part political timing.

King says she developed strong views about school choice as a mother of six children and the product of Boggs Academy in rural east Georgia, a private school for black children that has since closed.

She became anti-abortion after having an abortion in the early 1970s and then seeing a sonogram of her first-born son in 1976. In 1983, she became a born-again Christian, writing several books about aspects of her religious conversion. King also was influenced by the civil rights movement. When she was 12 years old, her home in Birmingham was fire-bombed. Her father, the Rev. A.D. King, the youngest of the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.'s sons, led housing protests in Louisville, Ky. A teenage Alveda was jailed briefly during one of the sit-ins he organized. Georgia Rep. Tyrone Brooks (D-Atlanta), also an activist in the civil rights movement, says he believes King's conservative and religious views reflect the influence of King Sr., Alveda King's grandfather.

"She truly believes that the strategy and advocacy . . . of the religious right is the strategy that we ought to adopt as a black community, " Brooks says. "I disagree with that . . . but I respect Alveda's positions."

King might have remained in relative obscurity if not for a chance encounter outside Atlanta's Fulton County Courthouse with Art Rocker, a black conservative who organized Alan Keyes' presidential campaign in Georgia in 1996.

In 1996, Rocker helped King form "King for America" to give her a platform to promote school choice. Rocker, an officer with the tiny organization, also schedules many of King's political appearances.

Early last year, the American Education Reform Foundation enlisted King's organization in a fight to establish a pilot voucher program in Washington.

The voucher initiative failed, but King's profile soared.

In August, the conservative Alexis de Tocqueville Institute made her a senior fellow, and a month later she testified before a House education committee in her new role as a scholar for the institute.

King's conservative views, however, didn't sell well in her native Atlanta. This fall, she ran for Atlanta City Council President and placed fourth out of five candidates, polling 6 percent of the vote.

King now says her heart wasn't really in the race and says she spent too much time traveling around the country instead of campaigning.

Tomorrow, when the King family and others gather in the sanctuary of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church to mark the King holiday, Alveda King won't be sitting in the hallowed pews.

Out in California for much of the week, she has scheduled an interview with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, followed by call-ins to a half-dozen talk radio shows.

Sometime during the day, King has been told that Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host, will profile her work as he ruminates about her uncle's legacy.

 

 

About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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