Thursday, April 3, 2008

40th Anniversary

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

When you say the name Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it evokes different descriptions, emotions, and thoughts. One thing that cannot be forgotten is the sacrifice that he and his family made during those trying times of the Civil Rights Movements.

It was a time that young people now are lucky enough to not have to live through or deal with, yet they do not realize what Dr. King, Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and others went through to allow them the freedoms that we have today. They do not know what it is like to have to go into a separate bathroom, or drink from a different water fountain or even give up their seat on the bus. They do not know these things because of Dr. King.

My mother marched with with Dr. King when he came here to Albany, GA in 1961. They were all arrested and thrown in jail here and in Lee County. Even though he was a dynamic speaker and seemed larger than life, he liked to play pool and did things that normal people did. He was a normal man that just wanted things to change.

40 years ago, Dr. King went to Memphis to take part in a Sanitation March. He was not going to speak that night, it was going to be Ralph Abernathy addressing the crowd. Well, story has it that the crowd was restless and didn't want to hear Rev. Abernathy speak. He called back to the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was resting (he was not feeling well because of a cold/flu that he was fighting). Ralph told him that the crowd did not want to hear him, so Dr. King headed down to the hall where the meeting was being held.

The next evening, the group was preparing to go to dinner at one of the ministers in Memphis' house. As they gathered on the balcony, Dr. King was kidding around with some of the others down below (Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young) when a shot fired out. That was when the world changed, and we lost one of the most influential individuals of the last century.

The speech that night was the prolific "Mountaintop" speech. I think that he knew that he would not make it home. Another story that I have heard was in regards to a ritual that he had with Coretta. Whenever he went away, he would have live flowers sent to her. For the trip to Memphis, he sent a silk arrangement to her. She asked him why, and his reply was he wanted her to have an arrangement that wouldn't die.

Since then, there has been great debate over whether James Earl Ray did it or not - the family didn't think so. We may never know. I personally have my own theories but I am an undergound conspiracy theorist, so I will keep it to myself.

Mrs. King went back to Memphis to lead the march that her husband had planned. She was the pilar of strength when the nation was not sure how to handle it themselves. The funeral was attended by dignitaries and common people because he was special to everyone. The mule cart that carried his casket is on display at the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Though he was in constant danger, he never gave up the fight. He wanted to make a difference, and he did. What would life be without Dr. King - isn't it nice to not have to know.

Thank you Dr. King for your sacrifice.

You're free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty you are free at last.