King scholarship service speaker previews April 30 message

Brittany King has heard the seemingly magic words of racial harmony since she was a child: the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of all races in singular unity. She feels it sometimes can be easy enough to treat his vision of decades ago as a misty picture but never hard reality.

“With some people, it’s like it’s just this theoretical idea, and they don’t actually believe it,” King said. “But they say it because they know it makes people feel warm and fuzzy.”

The Columbus native and current Bloomington resident, the former leader of Black Lives Matter Of Columbus, is better known as a straightforward realist in race relations and equality. She will be the keynote speaker at the rescheduled Annual Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Service at 3 p.m. April 30 at Calvary Community Church, 1031 Chestnut St. in Columbus.

The theme is “Together We Can Be the Dream.”

The gathering, launched by recently retired Calvary founders Bishop Charles Sims and Pastor Jane Sims, highlights the late civil rights leader’s emphasis on scholastics and education, among other things, and celebrates scholarships given to local students. King himself was so academically focused that he became a Morehouse College student in Atlanta at age 15. He died at age 39 when he was shot on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, standing up for the rights of minority sanitation workers.

The local scholarship service often has attracted about 200 people and includes community leaders.

While dissecting some of King’s words and legacy, King, 33, expects to include background and insight from the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a dynamo in the civil rights movement. Part of the speaker’s approach will be practical.

“I’m saying let’s reassess what we mean by the dream, because I don’t think we all see the dream in the same way,” King said.

Bishop Sims selected King as the speaker.

“Brittany King is an outstanding young lady,” Sims said. “Brittany has a passion for life and for loving people and treating them with fairness regardless of their race.”

The last time most area residents heard King speak publicly was at the 2018 Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast — when she teared up talking about severe racial threats she faced as she spoke out against racism locally and nationally.

“That was just the beginning of my seeing just how complicated race issues really are,” King said. “And I was seeing how complicated and nuanced social issues are in order for us to realistically seek an actual unity with one another.”

Since that time, she studied journalism — and earned a master’s in the field — at New York University with such nationally noted instructors as leading journalist and bestselling author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

“I’m still for bettering race relations,” she said. “Now, I just have different methods and different ways to go about it.”

These days, she publishes an online magazine,, and hosts a Spotify and YouTube monthly podcast, “American Shade With Brittany King.” The magazine aims to “question our cultural conversations to humanize our complexities as people.”

Plus, she has most recently been working as a marketing writer for the Indiana University Foundation. Interestingly, with all her educational surroundings of late, she wants her King service audience to focus beyond academics.

“This education I’m going to talk about is about your character,” King said. “If you don’t have good character, it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have.”

About the event

What: Annual Rev. Martin Luther King Scholarship Service.

When: 3:30 p.m. April 30.

Where: Calvary Community Church, 1031 Chestnut St.

Information: Facebook page for Calvary Community Church.