Graduation from high school would take place in about two months.
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.
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Rising from Ashes
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.