Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fifty years last night, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN ahead of a march to take place for sanitation workers. He was shot and killed the next day on April 4th. His life ended, and a nation both grieved his loss and erupted over injustices against Blacks that Americans had ignored far too long. His words, fifty years ago, resonate with a cycle that has returned:
The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around. That's a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding. Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up…we have been forced to a point where we are going to have to grapple with the problems that men have been trying to grapple with through history, but the demands didn't force them to do it…And also in the human rights revolution, if something isn't done, and done in a hurry, to bring the colored peoples of the world out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. Now, I'm just happy that God has allowed me to live in this period to see what is unfolding.
Changes were occurring in America due to all those with whom he was organizing. Dr. King called people to concrete action, including participating in a “poor people’s campaign.” The Rev. Dr. Ralph Abernathy explained that the intention of the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968 was to “dramatize the plight of America’s poor of all races and make very clear that they are sick and tired of waiting for a better life.” Dr. King aligned with the struggle of the poor and black sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee in March and April 1968. Among his encouraging last words to his audience in Memphis were these: “I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!”