Donzaleigh Abernathy, the daughter of the late Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, offered personal insight into the lives of the men who led the civil rights movement, during a presentation on Feb. 25 as part of California State University, Northridge’s Black History Month celebration.
Abernathy, an actress and author, chronicled the lives of her father and his best friend, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with mostly black-and-white photographs and reflections found in her book, Partners To History: Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and the Civil Rights Movement.
“They had a mutual respect, love for one another,” said Abernathy to a packed audience at the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall in the University Student Union. “It’s been said that Uncle Martin was the voice and my dad was the architect (of the civil rights movement).”
She said the two men were almost inseparable from the day Abernathy and King met in the 1950s, when both dated the same woman. Later, after the men married their wives, their families became close-knit too, she said.
“We vacationed together and shared so much,” said Abernathy, at one point highlighting a photo of her parents, King and his wife, on vacation in California. “Uncle Martin was always at our house.”
Abernathy said both her father and King were dedicated, loving and kind men who gave what they had to support the civil rights movement. Her father continued to fight for the rights of the poor and disenfranchised until his death in 1990.
“People know Martin Luther King and daddy not for what they got but what they gave,” Abernathy said. “We were so blessed to have had them in our lives.”
The event was sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, the University Student Union, Associated Students, the Department of Africana Studies and the CSUN Black Alumni Association.