They say deaths come in threes. That some people are forever linked in death in ways they were not linked in life. So I wonder: did Yolanda King die on Tuesday in order to teach Jerry Falwell a message of peace, love and tolerance in an afterlife?
She was the eldest child of Dr. Martin Luther King, of whom she told the New York Daily News in 1996: "My father was bigger than life, an entity and everyone expected us, as his offspring, to be saintettes, these little carbon copies. They're pleasantly surprised that I'm just really down-to-earth, open." She was born two weeks before Rosa Parks, in a quiet act of courage, refused to stand so a white man could sit on a bus.
Yolanda's life was shaped by her father's legacy. She lived the Civil Rights movement, and she carried on as a motivational speaker and actor. In a statement, the King family called her an "advocate for peace and nonviolence, who was known and loved for her motivational and inspirational contributions to society."
So this week, we see the deaths of someone who thrived on teaching hate, ignorance, and intolerance with Jerry Falwell; and someone who taught, and lived, a life of peace and tolerance and love with Yolanda King. Here is a woman who lived with dignity and grace; it shows in her face. It shows in her actions. Let her be my example, let her be my teacher.