For residents of Los Angeles, April 29 is a day that lives on in infamy.
Twenty-seven years ago, the streets of the city I now call home descended into chaos in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict, in which a jury acquitted four LAPD officers of charges related to his brutal assault, which was captured on video. And while the city has yet to fully recover from the riots and acrimony that sprung to life that day, King’s daughter Lora remains steadfast in her commitment to the safety and sanctity of the black family.
Three years ago, she launched the Rodney King Foundation for Social Justice and Human Rights as a mechanism to provide community outreach and combat the injustices that pervade American society. And on Monday, she announced the “I Am a King” scholarship, which will cover 100 percent of the costs for black fathers to enjoy a memorable day with their kids.
The intent is to eliminate some of the financial barriers that prohibit many black fathers from being able to build a rapport with their children, allowing them to be more active in the lives of their kids. The Los Angeles Times reports that the scholarship will be issued periodically, and would cover activities as inexpensive as dinner to more grandiose outings such as an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland.
A private tech entrepreneur provided $10,000 to establish the fund, while others have contributed undisclosed sums. King also intends to solicit donations from the public. The impetus for this endeavor came from within.
“This was an idea that Lora had I would say three and a half maybe four months ago,” Joshua Jordison, her manager and business partner, told The Root. “There are other things that we’re working on. This is the first phase of a much, much bigger vision that she has [...] But this whole thing came from inside of her. The concept and idea for this.”
King also drew inspiration from her own experiences. After her father was awarded $3.8 million in damages, he made exposing his daughter to the world beyond South LA a priority. He poured money into sending her to leadership camps, attending art exhibitions and even skiing at Mt. Baldy.
These outings not only strengthened their bond but helped her realize and absorb her father’s passions for social justice and racial reconciliation. She’s since gone on to facilitate meetings between the Los Angeles Police Department and local members of her community, appear at the Network of Korean-American Leaders gala last year and rack up a number of other accolades and accomplishments.
But for King, it’s not about the fanfare. It’s about the mission.
“It’s important to me that Lora can leverage the importance of her family legacy to impact the world for the better. Which is what she wants to do,” Jordison said. “This is about celebrating and supporting African-American fathers.”
To apply, black fathers must visit the foundation’s website and fill out a short application, which includes writing a brief essay sharing their story and their plans on how they’ll spend the scholarship money. The first awards will be distributed on Father’s Day—the day she lost her father to accidental drowning in 2012, but also the day she expects to deliver her first son.
“[King] will read every single application,” Jordison confirmed. “We’re already getting a lot, but this is really important for her. We’d love your readers to participate and spread the word and apply if it makes sense for them.”
What the “I Am King” scholarship is setting out to do is incredible. So for those interested, please take advantage of this opportunity.