Last Saturday at Galleria Dallas, Dr. Bernice King [lawyer, minister and youngest daughter of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King] and Dr. Kimberly P. Johnson [a children’s book author and motivational speaker] did a reading for It Starts With Me, a children’s book that teaches the important of pushing for change through love.

The book focuses on protagonist Amora [who is inspired by Dr.King herself] as she shows us her Beloved Community.  The book was co-authored by Drs. King and Johnson respectively, and features the “Be Love,” pledge for kids to take. The book also featured dedications to Dr. Bernice Kings mother Coretta Scott King and one from Dr. Johnson to young people who are continuing to push forward, to Dr. Bernice King and to the books illustrator Zoe Ranucci.

According to Dr. Bernice King,the inspiration behind the book, began with the King Centers BeLove campaign, which began last year, and was based off of her father’s words.

“Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love,” she said.

Dr.King stated that she wanted to implement in a divided climate that the power of love can lead to change and ultimately be transformative. Her and Dr.Johnson wanted to include children in their message, and they found the best way to do so was through a children’s book. The theme for the King Center, the center for nonviolent social change for that year was also “It Starts With Me.”

“You don’t have to wait on anybody else to change the world. There’s something you can do even as a child. When people are mean, you can be the opposite, you can be kind. Just because somebody says something mean doesn’t mean you have to meet fire with fire. You can turn around and say something that will disarm them,” Dr. King said.

Photo credit: Kelsey Sparks

Dr. Johnson hopes that the book will resonate with young people and empower kids to use their voices. Johnson stated that we (adults and parents) often do not give kids the chance to speak volumes about what’s around them. Through their book, they are educating kids by providing positive and productive information and sharing powerful messages that can allow them to be problem solvers. Kids are smart, she says, and while they know how to repair issues, we can occasionally get in the way of their leadership.

“The young people shall lead and they have the ability to create the change that we want to see if we give them the right background, the right stakeholders, the right community advocates,” Dr.Johnson said.

Dr.King spoke about how young even her father was, starting the nonviolent civil rights movement at just 25. When they (her family and activists) got to Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights movement, there were kids as young as eight, nine and 10 participating in demonstrations. Evidence of young people always being at the crux of change in the world.

“When they (kids) step up, things adjust. I see it over and over and over again. Our job is to cultivate that and allow them to speak to us and help make the changes needed,” Dr. King said.

As for what they have coming up next?

“That’s going to be really hard to capture,” Dr.King said.

To purchase a copy of “It Starts With Me,” from the link below. All proceeds will go to the King Center:

It Starts With Me