The tension among the King children is unfathomable to some. How can siblings who shared such a singular tragedy barely talk? She points to the children of South African leader Nelson Mandela, whose squabbling over their father's legacy makes headlines overseas.
"My question would be for the people that can't understand it is to look at their (own) families," King says. "Every family -- think about the Mandela family right now -- every family has its challenges. We're not immune. We're not superhuman."
She says some of the tension with her brothers may be rooted in gender.
"I'm the only female left in the family," King says. "I was closer to my mother and sister. ... Women and men are different."
When asked if she thinks she will ever become closer to her brothers, she says: "I don't know. I would hope so."
The 'mistake' march
Her father made history with marches, but one of Bernice King's most controversial public episodes came when she helped lead a march herself.
It was 2004, and she and Bishop Eddie Long -- senior pastor of an Atlanta megachurch -- were leading a march against same-sex marriage. Long, who once said that blacks have to "forget" racism because they have already reached the Promised Land, carried a torch during the march. It had been lit at an eternal flame at Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave.
The march was widely criticized by followers of her father. They pointed out that King's marches were about inclusion -- not excluding a group of people. They noted that one of his closest aides was Bayard Rustin, a gay man who was instrumental in planning the March on Washington.
Bernice King, who was an elder in Long's church at the time, later left the congregation after Long settled out of court with four young men who had accused him of coercing them into sexual relationships.
King sighed loudly when asked about the march.
"If I had to make the choice today," she says, "it would be different."
She says she participated because the march revolved around several issues -- strengthening the black family; black youth trapped in the justice system -- that were not highlighted by the media.
When asked how she feels about same-sex marriage, she says, "I wouldn't say I'm against same-sex marriage. I believe in freedom and equality for all people. I believe that when it comes to gay marriage, that's a political and legal issue that has to be dealt with in that arena. I have privately held beliefs, but when it comes to that, it's properly placed in the political and legal arena."
Running from a calling
King doesn't belong to a church now. She visits and still accepts preaching engagements. When asked which contemporary pastors she admires, she mentions three whose ministries are very different from that of her father: Bishop T.D. Jakes, Andy Stanley and Joel Osteen.
All three are megachurch pastors who are not known for being "prophetic" like her father. Their ministries are more focused on personal growth and powerful messages than speaking truth to power.
The Rev. Timothy McDonald III, who was Bernice King's youth pastor at Ebenezer, says it makes sense that she would admire them.
"She was angry at one point in her ministry that her father was killed fighting for social justice and feeling that his death had been unappreciated," he says.
"They're the antithesis of Dr. King, and for her psychologically, that's safe," he says.
There's no doubt about her favorite pastor, though.
"My favorite preacher is not with me anymore," she says, "and that's my father."
McDonald says he could imagine when Bernice King was a teenager that she would follow her father into the ministry. She had that rare ability to electrify audiences when she spoke. She connected with youth.
"She ran away from it for a while," he says. "We did a play one year and she played the part of the preacher," he says. "She may have been 17. I said, 'Oh yeah, we'll see where this goes.'"
She eventually was ordained at Ebenezer.
But when she was a teenager, she was still dealing with the loss of her father, he says. Once, the church youth group took a trip to a camp, where they watched a documentary on her father, he says.
"She broke down," McDonald says. "She cried for I don't know how long. Everybody was trying to comfort her. Later she said that was the first time she had really grieved about her father."
Becoming her own person
Outside the pulpit, friends and family say, Bernice King is different from the solemn figure portrayed in the media.
Hints of that warmth came through in the photo session at Ebenezer. She was playful and warm. She displayed a radiant smile and a hearty laugh. (Her father had a beautiful rumbling baritone of a laugh and a mischievous sense of humor in private).
Her cousin Alveda King says she wishes more people could see Bernice King throw her head back and laugh. She and others describe King as someone who loves gospel music, can dance, and sends birthday cards and encouraging notes to people.
They say King lights up when she's around young girls, such as during her visits to the Coretta Scott King Young Women's Leadership Academy, an Atlanta school established in honor of her mother.
When King visits, the girls don't see her as a remote stoic figure, her cousin says.
"Those girls, they cluster around her, they rub her hair and lean all over her and get in those pictures," Alveda King says.
Canady, of the UNCF, says King has a rollicking sense of humor.
"One night for her birthday we ended up at a family's friend's house and we were playing Taboo all night long and laughing and joking," he says. "She has this way of telling stories that will crack you up, and remembering things that you have forgotten that will have you in stitches.
"She had really learned in life not to take herself too seriously."
Canady says people have written rules for Bernice King that they're not willing to follow themselves: She's not allowed to make mistakes; she's not allowed to be different from her parents.
"She is not Martin or Coretta Scott King. She is her own person," says Canady.
In her 1997 book, "Hard Questions, Heart Answers," King wrote: