Dr. Bernice A. King gives Commencement address at Grinnell College on May 23

Dr. Bernice A. King gives the Grinnell College 2022 Commencement Address. (Photo By Justin Hayworth/Grinnell College)

Dr. Bernice A. King gives Commencement address at Grinnell College on May 23

GRINNELL, Iowa — Almost 55 years ago, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a Scholars Convocation titled “Remaining Awake During a Revolution” at Grinnell College. This deeply meaningful and historic event occurred just six months before his assassination. 

Today, Grinnell College was proud to welcome his daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King, to speak at commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Central Campus. King is carrying on her father’s mission of nonviolence and positive social change through her work as a global thought leader, orator, peace advocate, and as leader of The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (founded by her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 1968).

As CEO of The King Center, she is steadfastly continuing her parents’ efforts to advance “Kingian Nonviolence,” which she rebranded as Nonviolence365™. The center educates youth and adults on the nonviolent principles modeled by the King family. Dr. King created the Camp N.O.W. Leadership Academy in 2012 to engage youth from around the world in this work. 

Recent events have brought the need for King’s work into even sharper focus. Through The King Center, Dr. King connected with educators, law enforcement, civil leaders, activists, gang members, and business leaders in Ferguson, Mo., to engage in dialogue and Nonviolence365 training. The training encourages participants to commit to a nonviolent lifestyle. This important work continues in communities around the country, striving to build relationships between community members and law enforcement. 

Dr. King, who attended Grinnell College briefly before graduating from Spelman College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, also earned Master of Divinity and Doctor of Law degrees from Emory University. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and a trained mediator.

At today’s Commencement ceremony Dr. King received a Doctor of Laws Honorary Degree, for her steadfast efforts to continue her parents’ legacy of nonviolent social change.


With more than 175 years of tradition, Grinnell has a legacy worthy of its past, future, and present. From its abolitionist roots to the incubation of the Social Gospel movement, Grinnell has a deeply meaningful history and a legacy of activism.


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