April 4, 2018:
King said, I have a Dream, and was murdered at the age of 39.
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin.
His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931.
Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of 15. He received the B.A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father & grandfather had graduated.
After 3 years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951.
With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at the Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 & receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met & married Coretta Scott, a young woman of extraordinary intellect & artistic attainments.
2 sons & 2 daughters were born into the family.
Beginning his life of activism about 61 years ago, Dr. King quickly became the face & leader of the civil rights movement. He played a role in organizing the March on Washington & is the creator of the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which drew a crowd of nearly 250,000 people.
“It is important to see 2 of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we have had yet to bury.”
Half a century ago, the enthusiastic crowd eager to hear from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., roused him from his bed at the Lorraine Motel across town in a thunderstorm to Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ.
The King’s words rang anew during the program, before his youngest child, Bernice King, had addressed the audience. Calling her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world!
As the world prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of King’s murder, this milestone coincides with a resurgence of the white supremacy, the continued shootings of unarmed black men & a parade of discouraging statistics on the lack of progress among black Americans on issues from housing to education to wealth. But rather than despair, the resounding message repeated in the building was one of resilience, resolve, & a renewed commitment to King’s legacy & unfinished work.
Just as it was on King’s last night in Memphis 50 years ago, the forecast yesterday called for a storm to again rattle the church walls, evoking the memory of King’s pronouncement that he had “been to the mountaintop,” his thunderous remarks were outdone only by the evening’s weather.
With an enthusiastic crowd filling Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, the atmosphere was heavy with nostalgia Tuesday for the evening 50 years ago that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his final speech.
It was in this sanctuary that he delivered his famous “Mountaintop” speech the night before he was assassinated. The commemoration was part of a week of events celebrating King’s legacy.
Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”
But Lee Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations wasn’t just to look to the past.
“Dr. King’s work – our work – is not done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate & organize & mobilize. That’s why we are here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.
Saunders was among the 1st speakers, taking the pulpit just after a video message from former President Barack Obama.
“As long as we are still trying, Dr. King’s soul is still rejoicing,” Obama said on the video.
Here are some of his most memorable quotes:
1. “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart.”
2. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final say in reality. Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
3. “The time is always right to do what is right.”
4. “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
5. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
6. If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t walk run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means keep moving.
7. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
8. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
9. “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”
10. That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do what is right.