The daughter of Ralph David Abernathy, a significant civil rights leader and close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was at the Plaza del Sol’s performance hall yesterday to deliver a speech concerning the Civil Rights Movement.
With a backdrop of mostly black and white photographs, Donzaleigh Abernathy, an actress, screenwriter and author, spoke to the crowd about the relationships between the two men, as well as her involvement with the movement. During the 1960’s, Abernathy was only a child when she had a front row seat to history. She chronicled this history in a book entitled “Partners to History” and shared some of it with the audience.
“I wrote this book because I realized that when my dad died I lost him and I was so devastated,” Abernathy said. “So I had to write about him and I realized that I couldn’t write about my dad without writing about Martin Luther King. And all of a sudden the story became a bigger more important story.”
Her speech followed the story from the inception of the friendship between her father and King to her father’s death in 1990. In between, there were decades of history which ranged from the positive to the negative, and the most talked about events, such as the Montgomery bus boycotts to the distorted facts of that era.
“For everything good that happened something bad would happen,” Abernathy said while on stage.
Abernathy highlighted the relationship of King and her father as one of mutual respect, love, and support while also calling the two men best friends to each other. She said her father gave King strength to do what he did while mentioning that she herself didn’t want to be directly involved with the civil rights movement.
“I didn’t want to do what [King and Ralph David Abernathy] did because I didn’t want to die,” Abernathy said.
After Abernathy was finished speaking she was given a gift to commemorate her visit to CSUN.
“She’s one of the last testaments of truth from the civil rights movement,” David Dillon, speech pathology major, said of Abernathy. “A lot of people might capitalize off of their being alive or their being existent during the time and because there’s not much to prove anyone’s being there. To me she’s one of the people who was there, who was active and participates and knows the history.”