On the one hand, the world is a better place today by virtue of the death of an aging, pompous, self-righteous, bigotted blowhard who used the power of the pulpit to preach hate and devisiveness.
On the other hand, the world is a lesser place today, because it also lost a young, vibrant, beautiful humanitarian, whose life was dedicated to peace and harmony, and whose death yesterday went almost unnoticed in all the hulabaloo.
Yolanda King was two weeks old the day Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in December of 1955. She was sleeping in her crib two months later, when an unexploded bomb landed on the front porch of the King home. She was twelve years old the day her father was martyred for the cause of Civil Rights.
In the years since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., his oldest daughter carried his message of peace, non-violence and human rights to a wide audience through her writing, her acting, her Higher Ground production company, her humanitarian efforts and her public speaking engagements.
There's hardly a place where Yolanda King didn't leave her footprints ... from Hollywood to Dexter ... from Habitat for Humanity to the Human Rights Campaign. She rubbed shoulders with the stars and the starving, and the message she carried to all of them was the same:
We're all in this together, and what divides us is minute in comparison to what connects us. The dream isn't yet accomplished, but the effort to achieve it goes on, and it goes on with joy and good humor. No one is exluded from that dream, or the work of making it a reality.
She, like the rest of the King family, understood their role in American History, and realized that their lives would never be private ones, so they've sought to make them exemplary ones. Yolanda King was definitely successful in that effort.
Her death is especially poignant to me, because it stands in such sharp contrast with that other celebrity death yesterday, in a way that impacts my life directly. Here, as a shining example of that contrast, is a brief quote from the HRC's Out and Equal Workplace Summit 2006, where Yolanda King delivered the plenary speech last September:
"I know in my heart that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word."
Speaking of the continued marriage, military and other forms of discrimination against LGBT people, she added "for a nation that prides itself on the words liberty and justice for all, this is unacceptable."