On April 4, 1968, 52 years ago today, the sound of a single gunshot silenced America. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot and killed while standing on the balcony outside of his second-story room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
On April 3, 1968, a day before his assassination, Dr. King had delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, and with profound conviction echoed the words, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve seen the mountaintop… 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.”
At 39 years of age, Dr.King understood that he was a target because he fought against a system that did not want to release their reign of power over a race of people. His vision, his voice and efforts to uplift an entire race out of the plight and degradation which was their lives, all posed as a threat to those who viewed African Americans as inferior, less than, and not even worthy of a seat in the front of a bus. It brings tears to my eyes knowing that no matter how many times he was attacked and berated in public, how many times he was told it was not the time to push for equality and civil rights for his people, or how often his family was threatened and his home bombed, he never wavered in his endeavor to ensure that the playing field would be leveled for his people.
From being able to sit at a counter in a restaurant without fear of being spat on, dragged and beaten, to simply being able to cast a ballot to vote, things that you would think to be a given, had to be advocated and tirelessly fought for. In his words, “God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty.”
Dr. King was more than just a mellifluous speaker and phenomenal orator, he was a man who stood as a beacon of hope, a man who could inspire, and a man whose visionary tentacles of equality and justice for all, stretched far beyond the boundaries of the United States of America. Today, how ironic it is that on April 4, 2020, we have some difficult days ahead. We are in the midst of a pandemic that has created uncertainty and upheaval in the lives of many. More than ever now is the time to ride on the wave of Dr.King’s vision of hope for America. We shall overcome! #WeAreGenZ