Remembering the Day They Killed ‘The Dreamer’ – 50 Years Ago This April 4th

“I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.” – from a brief statement by then Senator and U.S. presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy, in Indianapolis, Indiana on the evening of April 4th, 1968

A Brief Commentary and Remembrance by Doug Draper

Posted April 2nd, 2018 on Niagara At Large

He was, without a word of doubt from this commentator, one of the most passionate and courageous voices for brotherly and sisterly love, for peace from war and for social justice who walked the surface of this earth in the last hundred years.

Fifty years ago this April 4th, 2018, Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader who dared to dream of a day when his children and all children will live in a world where “they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character,” was cut by forces of anger and hate while in Memphis, Tennessee, supporting striking a group of grossly underpaid and exploited sanitation workers.

Martin Luther King’s assassination was one of the darkest days in a very tense and tumultuous year of rebellion and war and marches for a more peaceful, just world, when only two months after the death of this many who so many held up as the great dreamer, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated too – dashing so much of the hope riding on the campaigns of those two men for decades to come.

This April 4th, bells will toll and memorial events will be held for Martin Luther King in Buffalo, New York and many other communities across the United States and other regions of the world. And many will be hearing and reading some of MLK’s great speeches – speeches that are full of lines that, for better or worse, are still very relevant to the world we live in today.

One of the first lines that comes to mind for me – a line I recently saw displayed on the walls of a sanctuary church in Buffalo, and one that Martin Luther King spoke 51 years ago this April 4th, while outlining his opposition to the ongoing War in Vietnam – is one that reads as follows

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

Please consider taking at least a few moments out this April 4th to remember Martin Luther King and the better angels of our nature he dedicated his life appealing to.

And if you are too young to remember this giant of a human being and the ideals he fought for, I urge you to read one of the many great biographies or collections of his quotes, speeches and essays that are available out there.

Martin Luther King’s life work should be part of the curriculum in every high school in the United States, Canada and around the world.

I will just finish with this thought.

Fifty years ago, the forces of anger and hate killed the dreamer, but hopefully they did not kill the dream. It is up to all peace-loving people around the world to keep the dream alive!

“Like anybody,” said Martin Luther King at the end of a speech he delivered in Memphis, Tennessee the night before he was cut down, “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!”

For more information on the NAACP Martin Luther King Legacy March in Buffalo, New York, this April 4th, click onhttps://buffalonaacp.org/events/the-kings-legacy-march/

For information on other April 4rth memorial events for MLK and his legacy, click onhttp://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/students-celebrate-mlks-life-readings-historic-play .

And for another great event hosted by the owners of the Burning Books store in Buffalo,  click onhttp://wnypeace.org/wp/event/the-radical-king-book-club-meeting/

For just a very brief blurb on the Burning Books event, read the following – Burning Books  420 Connecticut St, Buffalo, NY 14213

Join The Radical King Book Club Meeting for the first event of discussing the book The Radical King by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Author), Cornel West (Editor)

“The radical King was a democratic socialist who sided with poor and working people in the class struggle taking place in capitalist societies.” Said Cornel West

To listen to and watch Bobby Kennedy’s now historic statement, delivered in a predominately African-American neighbourhood in on the news of Martin Luther King’s death, to watch, click on –

,Here is the full text of Bobby Kennedy’s remarks, posted here as he stated them on the back of a flatbed  truck, without any notes, on that fateful day in 1968, 50 years ago this April 4th –

“Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another; and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.”

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space below the Bernie quote.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

 “A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

 

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One response to “Remembering the Day They Killed ‘The Dreamer’ – 50 Years Ago This April 4th

  1. Gary Screaton Page

    Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech still sends shivers up my spine. Without question he was a gifted orator. The speech is truly one of the greatest ever delivered. I keep it mounted on my office wall: a continual reminder of how love can conquer hate. What a contrast to the diatribes of Donald Trump as he Tweets his lies and venom: hateful writing far too often.
    I was young enough when I made my first trip to New Orleans as a child to remember the sadness and confusion I felt when my dad was told to move because he was sitting in the back of the trolly car, the zone to which “blacks” were confined. I remember he refused to move. However, unlike Rosa Parks he was not arrested or even put off the car. No, the conductor simply moved the sign further back.
    As I grew older, I made several more trips to New Orleans about one decade apart. Each time I witnessed the courageous protests for equality. I saw the evolution in my uncle’s department store, Mason Blanc near the French quarter, from segregated food counters, drinking fountains, and washrooms. Interestingly, next to last visit I noted that the previously “Whites Only” counter was now serving “blacks” too. However, at the “Black’s Only” counter were no whites sitting at all.
    That was no longer so on my last trip.
    Change is slow to be sure. Especially social change. The time has long past, however, when segregation, racism, and hate should end. I, too, have a dream. I share it with the late Martin Luther King Jr. How we so need others as bold and brave and visionary and peace loving as he!
    All I see now in the U.S.A. is the “mean-ing” of America.

    Like

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