PHOTO BY DENIS REGGIE
What makes Atlanta feel like home to you?
It’s where my daughter was born; it’s where I fell in love. It’s also where my mother passed away. It has nurtured me in so many different seasons of my life. Also, I worked for many years monitoring hate groups and hate crimes at an organization here in Atlanta called the Center for Democratic Renewal, which was run by Rev. C.T. Vivian, who passed away last year. So to really have dedicated time front and center with someone like C.T. Vivian and understand up close and personal what the civil rights movement was about—and, more importantly, how it connected to present day—to have had that opportunity, when I look back, it has really been a true blessing.
Was there a pivotal moment that led you to pursue a life of activism and humanitarianism, or did that passion evolve over time?
I think it always was there. I was working in business here in Buckhead and it was fulfilling in a sense financially, but I knew there was something that for me was missing. I always thought I’d work with children or give back that way, and then became more and more immersed in social justice—and certainly then working for the Center for Democratic Renewal, I was just in heaven.
How is your family carrying on the King legacy?
One of the things that my husband and I are working on now—and [our daughter] Yolanda, all three of us—is that we are in the process of taking over the leadership of the Drum Major Institute (drummajorinst.org), which was based out of New York. It has the distinction of being the only organization that Martin’s father founded, just he and one other. … And now we have taken it over—Martin is the chair of the board and I am the president—to really expand the work to a global level because it really is our calling, we think, to democratize the King legacy.
What is one of Atlanta’s greatest challenges that you’d like to see us overcome?
To me, that every child from Atlanta, no matter if they’re from Bankhead or Buckhead, has the same vision and access and chance for equality and a way of life. That would be my greatest hope and vision.
If you could choose one thing to take from 2020 and one thing to leave behind, what would they be?
There was this feeling of connection and awakening. That is what I would like to take: that spirit of community, that spirit of standing together. … What I would leave is, before last year, we really can no longer be blind to the suffering of others. We must come together not in collective guilt but in collective responsibility.
Photography by: photo by Denis Reggie