Tuesday, 4 April 2017
Just after 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was fatally shot while standing on the balcony outside his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennesse. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.
For his entire adult life, until the very day he was assassinated in 1968, he was under constant surveillance from the federal government, under constant threat from millions of people who actually hated the causes and ideals he stood for, and, in his last days on earth, seemed to frequently suggest to his closest friends that he was aware he wouldn't make it much longer.
King also fought against police brutality and actually even mentioned it by name in his celebrated speech. Dr. King did not just vaguely fight against the idea of poverty, he fought for equal pay, he fought for better work conditions in cities across America, he fought to protect workers who were regularly abused by corporations.
He did not just vaguely fight for peace in the world; he stood up and spoke out against the Vietnam War when it was still tremendously unpopular for a man of his stature to do so. He did not, in fact, fight for integration, as much as he fought against segregation.
In the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including an interracial poor people’s march on Wahington and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration. On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
One day after speaking those words, Dr. King was shot and killed by a sniper. As word of the assassination spread, riots broke out in cities all across the United States and National Guard troops were deployed in Memphis and Washington D.C On April 9, King was laid to rest in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to King’s casket as it passed by in a wooden farm cart drawn by two mules.Martin Luther King is now best remembered for his ' I have a dream ' speech,but we owe him more than that, this man of great purpose, humility and wisdom was also a radical and revolutionary by both deed and action. As injustice continues in this world of ours , we can still find the courage to stand up and say enough.
" Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power
correcting everything that stands against love.”- Martin Luther King Jr
Strength to Love
Martin Luther King had a dream
That still today stirs our conscience,
He rejected violence to oppose racial injustice
Spread a message of peace, love and understanding,
His only weapons were his words and faith
As he marched in protest with his fellow man,
A force for good, but radical with intention
Pursued civil disobedience but was not afraid
We are all born equal under skin
This noble struggle never stops within,
The causes of poverty must still be eradicated
There is so much more room for change,
As fresh iniquities call, lets keep hope alive
Standing firm let our voices ring out,
Keep sharing deeds of deep principle
In the name of pride and in the name of love,
We are all still citizens of the world
As Martin Luther carries on reminding,
“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.
The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”
We must continue to resist and overcome,
One day soon, all our dreams will be realised.