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The 40th Anniversary of Dr. King's
Assassination (April 04, 2008)

Forty years ago, Civil Rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, when he was struck down by an assassin's bullet. He was 39 year old.

This April 4, thousands will reverently commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his assassination. They will converge on Memphis and Atlanta, King's birthplace, and join in symposia, conferences and intimate church gatherings across the nation.

At those gatherings, people will inevitably be asking themselves: how much has changed since we lost Dr. King four decades ago? How far have we come since his death? How far must we still travel to realize his vision for our nation?

On the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, Americans will recall when blacks had to use "colored" bathrooms. When water fountains and lunch counters were segregated. When southern universities were for whites only. When restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues were off limits to blacks - whether by decree or by deed.

That level of legally sanctioned racism is now in the past. In fact, a group of American professors even claimed that racism is dead a few years ago, in a column printed by the venerated Wall Street Journal.

Those professors' minority opinion, however, isn't reflected in the socio-economic reality of life in American today. While tremendous legal and social progress has been made, America remains a nation divided. The justice and equality Dr. King empowered Americans to reach for are still an unrealized dream.

The rifts have shifted, however, albeit subtly. The greater chasm today is along the fault lines of economic inequality. Yet that economic divide is still, like in King's time, decisively not color blind.

For current evidence, one needs to look no further than New Orleans - and to the vast community of low-income people still decimated from the havoc of Hurricane Katrina. Those most affected by the hurricane - those still homeless - are, overwhelming, black.

Despite the long road still ahead to realize King's vision for America, a top King aide, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker sees reason for optimism.

"I think Barack Obama's candidacy is the front edge of Dr. King's dream; I'm more excited about it than anything else," Walker told New York Daily News columnist Errol Lewis. "It goes toward fulfilling Dr. King's instruction that we be more concerned about a person's character than the color of his skin."

Regardless of your political persuasion, let Dr. King's legacy inspire you on the anniversary of his assassination. Honor Dr. King by honoring his call for social justice.

Like this article?

Related Articles:
Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
When is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day eGreeting Cards
The Emancipation Days of Respect
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: The Man

Add Comment
Kendall Sims from Indiana, US
16:48 02/24/2010
Martin Luther King Jr. inspired me to do things, thats positive and not negitive....1 day I want to follow in his foot steps...
dniel opoku from Ghana
08:02 12/22/2009
its a privilage to have a man like Dr. Martin luther king jr. in the world and I am very happy the world is acknowledging such a great personality. say bravo! keep it up!
ruthy from Florida, US
14:36 02/08/2009
I love all this information about Dr.King
Errol from Minnesota, US
23:26 01/19/2009
A Dream, with a Vision, with a Mission create Change and Change create a new foundation. Dr. King thinking is on the mission stage thru President Obama.
JOY from California, US
23:24 01/15/2009
Martin Luther King,Jr was a great man.
nick from Texas, US
09:14 01/09/2009
this dude rocks
steve from Arizona, US
12:26 12/17/2008
my grandma marched with martin luther king jr
tempest from North Carolina, US
16:52 11/25/2008
i am really sad and mad that Rev King is gone.i really was lookin foward to meeting him even though i neva knew him.we love and miss you from the bottom of our lives
shaye from United States
09:16 11/11/2008
i thank it good that the king did this to let us white and black people learn more about him and rosa parks and the heros with them
15:06 09/03/2008
martin luther king was a brilliant man who was assainated for helping his community get though racism and segregation he will never be forgotten by society and his thoughts about freedom will always carry on.

"peo ples" © 1997 Zoe Levenglick-Volpe (age 11)
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