TROY - Dr. Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and CEO of Atlanta's The King Center, laid down a challenge to participants of the 13th Annual Leadership Conference Celebrating African American History Month.
"My father left a legacy of leadership and I challenge you to leave a great legacy," she said to more than 500 participants gathered for the conference's opening session at Troy University's Claudia Crosby Theater.
King's address, a blend of her late father's philosophy and her own observations of leadership, told the assembly that true leadership depended not on an individual's position but rather on an individual's preparedness for leadership roles and an individual's leadership philosophy that the ‘greater good' must be served rather than personal agendas.
"Leadership is taking personal responsibility … and not people deferring to others to make decisions. God put each of us here to be an answer to a question and a solution to a problem," she said, noting that "we are where we are today as a nation not because of an individual leader but because of the ‘we factor' - we, the people."
Using her father as an example, she reminded participants that all must prepare for leadership by allowing life experiences to shape the individual character into a mold for the role of a leader.
"Too many people get into leadership positions who are not prepared," she said, adding a challenge to the students in the crowd not to look for a leader to follow but to begin "stepping up into leadership roles."
Dr. King was introduced by Sheron Rose, director of Team Relations at Hyundai Motors America following welcoming comments by Troy Mayor Jason Reeves and University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr.
The Leadership Conference continues on the Troy Campus on Saturday with student sessions and closing luncheon featuring a keynote address by The Hon. Penny Brown Reynolds, an Emmy-nominated national television personality and commentator on issues of law, politics, religion, as well as women and children's issues. She served as a state trial court judge in Atlanta for nearly a decade and previously served as executive counsel to Georgia's governor, making her the first African American to hold such a position.