Denzel Washington's Advice to Kids: 'Don't Be a Hater'

The Great Debaters star recalls Martin Luther King, Jr.'s influence on his family

Photo: Evens Lamour/Landov

As a father of four, Denzel Washington tells his kids that the world can be an imperfect place – but advises them not to be brought down by the imperfections.

“I try to teach my children there are going to be obstacles,” Washington, 53, said on Monday’s Early Show, about his remembrances of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “Someone may not like you just because they don’t like themselves. But, don’t you get bogged down.”

He says, “Don’t be a hater. Don’t let hatred destroy you. Overcome it, move on, educate them, if you will.” Washington has four children with wife Pauletta: John David, 23, Katia, 20, and Olivia and Malcolm, both 16.

Washington, who played civil-rights icon Malcolm X in the 1992 movie, says that when he was growing up, his family talked about King, Jr. and the 1960s civil rights movement.

“My father was a minister in the Church of God and Christ,” said Washington is stars in the current movie, The Great Debaters. “There was talk of this other guy, Malcolm X, that was not allowed to somehow be talked about. And of course, there was Martin Luther King.”

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