Saturday, April 5, 2008

April 4, 1968

We lost one of humanities most noble figures. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out onto the balcony of Room 306 of the Loraine Motel in Memphis, TN and was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. It seemed as though Dr. King's appeals for a peaceful end to segregation was fraying at the seams with the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam gaining popularity.

And in fairness to how people react to poor treatment, a lot of people did feel as though they had given peace a chance, only to get worse treatment in return. Marchers were met with firehoses and mace. Students like the Little Rock Nine, teenagers, had adults threaten them as they walked into school under National Guard escort. People were spit on and had dogs attach them for peaceful protests like sit ins. And then there were the little girls, who instead of going to a march went to church and were fire bombed in their pews for the color of their skin. As frail human beings, we eventually strike back with violence.

But Dr. King still held his head above all of these things. In the Friday edition of the New York Times, there is a report about a retreat that was built for Dr. King in St Helena Island, SC that he never had the chance to use. Part of the article includes an interview with Frieda Mitchell, an 82-year-old woman and former staff member of the Penn Center on St Helena Island where the retreat was to be built, recalled Dr King and something powerful he left her with.

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