Idol Chatter

If you’re reading this blog, you likely have some appreciation for how pop entertainment can impact our spiritual lives–perhaps in our present condition, more effectively than formal religion. Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda, who died Tuesday at the age of 51, seemed to have latched to this phenomenon earlier than most of us.

As the King Center was being built in Atlanta, Yolanda was dedicating herself to acting. She moved to California and founded her own production company, Higher Ground, planning to extend her father’s work through film, dramatic storytelling, and public speaking.

She also chose to act because she loved it. King was only 8 when she began to study with the Atlanta acting teacher (and Julia Roberts’s father) Walt Roberts. By 1979, she had earned a master’s in theater from the prestigious program at New York University. But King couldn’t separate her art from who she was. Most of her roles–from Rosa Parks in “Ghosts of Mississippi” to her one-woman stage show–grew from her own civil-rights history. Even her first significant acting role, in an Atlanta production of “The Owl and the Pussycat,” caused a stir when she kissed a white actor on stage.

Our movie stars are celebrated when they make time for a “message” movie. Even for one who inherited a message with her name, it takes courage and humility to make racial equality your career.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus