Last week in Memphis, many people came to acknowledge the 40 years since Dr. King’s assassination.
He was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. His three remaining children, Martin King III, Dexter and Rev. Bernice King, who are now older than their father lived to be, were present last Friday, releasing a white dove representing peace during the ceremony.
We must also remember the owner of the motel, Walter Lane Bailey and his wife, Lorraine. She died several hours after Dr. King was shot on April 4, 1968. She had a brain hemorrhage, which many believed was brought on by the trauma of King’s death. We should also never forget Mr. E.D. Nixon, who was responsible for getting King involved with Mrs. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Mr. Nixon’s grandson Lionel lives in Chicago and was once on Cong. Danny Davis’ staff. Another Chicago resident is Duane Kyles, former owner of Epitome Lounge, whose father, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, was with Dr. King that night, and, according to his son on a recent radio interview: “My father never talked about that night, it was too dramatic.”
The night of King’s death, Sen. Robert Kennedy, who was campaigning for president that year, told a small crowd in Indianapolis, Ind., one of his campaign stops, about the assassination. How ironic that two months later, he would also be assassinated on June 5, 1968.
As for Dr. King, the profound orator and writer is too often remembered for one speech: “I Have a Dream.”
But there was certainly more to Dr. King than this one, great speech. In fact, he made thousands of speeches, and often these speeches had thought-provoking messages. Following are a few quotes from some of them, including his most famous ones.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Segregation is the adultery of an illicit intercourse between injustice and immorality.”
“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.”
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.”
From “I Have a Dream” at the Aug. 28, 1963 March on Washington:
“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘Unalienable Rights’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last speech in support of the striking sanitation workers at Mason Temple in Memphis on April 3, 1968.
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. 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. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.