04 April 2008

Forty Years

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

Reprinted from BBC News On This Day as it was broadcast April 4, 1968.

1968: Martin Luther King shot dead

The American black civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King, has been assassinated.
Dr King was shot dead in the southern US city of Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a march of sanitation workers protesting against low wages and poor working conditions. He was shot in the neck as he stood on a hotel balcony and died in hospital soon afterwards.

Reverend Jesse Jackson was on the balcony with Dr King when the single shot rang out.
"He had just bent over. I reckon if he had been standing up he would not have been hit in the face," said Mr Jackson.

Police in Memphis were put on alert for a "well-dressed" white man who is said to have dropped an automatic rifle after the shooting and escaped in a blue car.
There were early signs of rioting in Memphis after Dr King's death and 4,000 members of the National Guard were drafted into the city. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been ordered to ward off disturbances.

The US President, Lyndon Johnson, has postponed a trip to Hawaii for peace talks on Vietnam. The president said he was "shocked and saddened" by the civil rights leader's death. "I ask every citizen to reject the blind violence that has taken Dr King who lived by non-violence," Mr Johnson said.

Bus boycott

Dr King, 39, had previously survived several attempts on his life including the bombing of his home in 1956. The charismatic civil rights leader joined the crusade for equal rights for black people in America in the mid 1950s. He first came to national prominence as one of the leaders of the Alabama bus boycott in 1955. In 1963 Dr King led a massive march on Washington DC where he delivered his now famous "I have a dream" speech. Dr King advocated the use of non-violent tactics such as sit-ins and protest marches.

In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel peace prize.


the teach said...

Oh Jamie, a terrible time in our history. It wasn't long after that Robert Kennedy himself was assassinated as well. What if such things happened today? How would we all react? I have friends who are afraid for Obama...

Anonymous said...

It is sad that MLK had to die to pave the way for civil rights.

Linda said...

40 years? Really? It doesn't seem that long ago somehow but maybe that's because MLK's memory and his purpose is still so very much alive.

Travis said...

His words are still relevant today, but I wonder sometimes if enough people are listening and converting those words into action.