Lora King was just seven-years-old when her father Rodney King was brutally beaten by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. Recorded by a bystander, the footage became a monument in police brutality against people of color and inspired the infamous L.A. riots of 1992. As we rest on the 27th anniversary of the riots, King’s daughter has launched a special scholarship for black fathers.
Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, King explained how the scholarship will help benefit black fathers by way of covering costs of family activities as simple as dinner to potentially larger activities like an all-expenses-paid trip to Disneyland. The “I Am A King” scholarship falls under the Rodney King Foundation for Social Justice and Human Rights she launched in 2016.
“As long as I continue to follow my vision, he will always be represented,” King said of the scholarship. As her father was thrown into the limelight, his past followed him and gave critics an opportunity to verbally beat his name in the public.
King’s case predates the efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement and also reflects the nature of how trauma from police brutality took a toll on King’s life. The Sacramento native continued to battle with alcoholism following the incident and the acquittal of Sgt. Stacey C. Koon and officers Timothy E. Wind, Laurence M. Powell and Theodore J. Briseno in 1992. Koon and Powell were later sentenced to two and a half years in prison in a second trial.
But to Lora, her father wasn’t a flawed civil rights figure. He was a humble man who wanted to make a life for his children as smooth as possible. After being awarded $3.8 million in damages, Lora told the outlet he helped foster her talents like paying for leadership camps and art programs. They also took trips to art exhibitions frequently and surfed in Venice. With the “I Am a King” scholarship, King Is hoping that fathers can do the same with the children, strengthening their bonds with every memorable moment.
To apply, black fathers can go to the Rodney King Foundation site where they will submit a picture and a short essay about their plans for the scholarship money. The first awards are expected to be handed out on Father’s Day, which happens to be day she lost her father and the due date for her first son.
Several private donors have already backed the program with more than $10,000 in donations. Lora’s hope is that the bulk of the funds for this program will come from private donors, while the general public can support the program.
“I want to help build up what was burnt down,” she said.
King died in 2012 in an accidental drowning, leaving behind his children and fiancee, Cynthia Kelly. Just a few weeks before his death, King spoke with OWN’s Where Are They Know series where he talked about his memoir The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption and what he wanted his legacy to be.
“The world knows me as a person who got beat up by the cops, the real Rodney King is the ‘Can’t we all get along type of guy,'” he said. “I’m a different man than I was 20 years ago. I wouldn’t change anything, because if it didn’t happen to me, it would be a slower process in people getting along.”
Learn more about the “I Am A King” scholarship here.