Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Daughter Thanks Justin Bieber for Support - Rolling Stone
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Bernice King, Daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., Thanks Justin Bieber for Supporting King Center

Pop star included archival audio of MLK on his new album, Justice

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Julie Bennett/AP; Kevin Mazur/AMA2020/Getty Images

Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., thanked Justin Bieber for supporting the King Center and its Be Love campaign as part of the singer’s philanthropic efforts around his new album, Justice.

Bieber’s new album, Justice, notably features a handful of MLK audio clips. The opening track, “2 Much,” starts with one of the most famous quotes from King’s 1963 “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Later, the “MLK Interlude” comprises audio from a sermon MLK delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in November 1967 that begins, “I say to you this morning, if you have never found something so dear and so precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.”

On Twitter, Bieber announced that he would be “supporting organizations that embody what justice looks like in action.” Along with the King Center, those include the Anti Recidivism Coalition, Alexandria House, the Compton Pledge, Baby2Baby, the Equal Justice Initiative, LIFT, Self Help Graphics and Art, This Is About Humanity, and the Poor People’s Campaign.

“Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something,” King wrote on Twitter in response to Bieber. “Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice. #MLK #EndRacism.”

While Bieber’s use of MLK’s speeches has drawn some criticism, it ostensibly has the support of the King estate, which must approve and license any use of King’s papers or speeches. Neither Bernice King nor a representative for Intellectual Properties Management, which handles licensing for the King estate, immediately returned Rolling Stone’s request for comment regarding the use of MLK’s work on Justice.

In a Vogue recap of a recent virtual Justice listening party Bieber hosted with journalists, Bieber explained why he wanted to include the MLK audio on his new album: “What I wanted to do with this was amplify [Dr.] Martin Luther King Jr’s voice to this generation,” Bieber said. “Being Canadian, it wasn’t so much a part of my culture.”

Regarding the “MLK Interlude” specifically, Bieber said: “This speech was actually during the time when [he had] a feeling that he was going to die for the cause, and what he was standing up against was ultimately racism and division. I think his message was that a lot of people can be afraid to stand up for what is right, but if you’re not standing up for justice — for what is right — what are you doing with your life? I’m sorry to get so deep, but these are the times we’re living in. That’s why I wanted to make this album because I think it’s very timely and very necessary.”


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