Monday, April 04, 2011
43 years ago
I was 18-years-old, trying to get my head around leaving home for college. Personally, it was a time of nervous transition, but I thought I was ready.
Late in the day, 43 years ago today, my dear friend and almost brother, Eddie Wilson and I were putting up campaign signs in yards and on street corners promoting a candidate for the local school board election who my father supported.
As was typical, the radio blared from my car, the 1957 Buick I had inherited when the family purchased a new vehicle.
The news flash crackled out of the AM broadcast informing us that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been murdered in Memphis, Tennessee where he had traveled to support a labor action by Memphis sanitation workers who were on strike. I would later hear reports that referenced the now almost eerie speech the famous preacher had delivered the night before in which he spoke of having "been to the mountain" and how he did not fear death or any man.
Growing up in an extremely segregated Dallas, Texas, I possessed inadequate social background or understanding to interpret the significance of what I was hearing on the radio. I remember sitting in the car staring at the dial in disbelief. Another leader of people gunned down.
Since that awful afternoon 43 years ago, I've come to understand just how significant was the life, work and word of Dr. King and just how horrific the loss of his life and leadership was for the nation.
So, today, I'm back in the front seat of my car, hearing terrible news and trying to discern what it might mean. Forty-three years later I know the work continues. I know Dr. King's life mattered. I know that we continue his work. And, I know the same tears that came to my eyes so long ago.