Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter thanks Justin Bieber amid backlash over quotes featured on new album

Pop star samples the late civil rights leader’s speeches on his latest album

Annabel Nugent
Monday 22 March 2021 10:41
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Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter has thanked Justin Bieber for his support of the King Centre charity amid backlash over the singer’s use of quotes from the civil rights leader on his new album.

The King Centre (also known as The Martin Luther King Jr Centre for Nonviolent Social Change) is a non-profit organisation established in memory of the late activist. It is now run by Luther King Jr’s daughter, Bernice King.

To coincide with his album’s release on Friday (19 March), Bieber announced a campaign to raise awareness for social justice organisations, naming a number of charities – including The King Centre – that he would be supporting himself.

Bernice King, the King Centre’s CEO, thanked the singer on Twitter, writing: “Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something.”

She added: “Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is part of our global movement for justice.”

Bernice’s message comes after Bieber was criticised by listeners who took issue with the musician including Luther King Jr’s words on his latest album, on which the civil rights leader is credited as a songwriter.

Justice opens with one of the minister’s most recognisable quotes: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”, and includes an “MLK interlude” that features samples from King’s 1967 sermon “But If Not”.

Addressing Bernice’s message of support for Bieber, one user wrote: “I don’t know her & she don’t speak for all black people. I don’t gotta agree w her on how I feel about a clear reflection of big industries commodifying & commercialising the pain of our community.”

Many listeners pointed out that one of the album’s “MLK interlude” was followed by a love song about Bieber willing to die for romance.

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“Justin Bieber has an ‘MLK interlude’ on his album. Then, an 80s inspired pop song about dying for love comes on next,” wrote a user on Twitter.

Another person added: “I’m confused why this whole justin bieber album is called justice and has a whole mlk sit if it’s just about how in love he is wirth hailey bieber [his wife].”

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“Justin Bieber profiting off of the civil rights movement as a white man is weird. his album is called ‘justice’ and has an MLK interlude but speaks nowhere of social justice, and is focused on love & relationships... huh?” wrote someone else.

You can read The Independent’s four-star review of Justice here. 

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