Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fifty Years Ago Today, a Shot Rang Out in the Memphis Sky...

Monday, April 4, 1968. 6:01 PM Central Standard Time. Memphis, Tennessee. Fifty years ago today, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sealed a life lived in sacrifice for racial justice for African-Americans, for the truth that every human person deserves to be treated with dignity, for his commitment to non-violence as the weapon that seeks to defeat enemies by changing their hearts and turning them into friends.

He had already meditated much on death, and had accepted it as a price he was willing to pay, a sacrifice that he knew—in God's plan—would bear fruit.

Some words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reflecting about the possibility of his own death by violence:

"If physical death is the price I must pay to free my white brother and all my brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing could be more redemptive" (1964).

"I've never known anybody to achieve freedom until somehow they were willing to say within that death is not the ultimate evil.... If we are going to be free, we have to be willing to suffer and sacrifice for that freedom, if necessary" (1965).

"If something happens to me physically, or if I come to a violent end, I will go on with the faith that unmerited suffering is redemptive. And I don't think the important thing really is how long you live, but how well you live. And I'm not concerned about my longevity or the quantity of my life, but the quality of my life...trying to do a good job for humanity and for my race and for the human race and for my children and for God" (1967).

"Like everybody 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" (1968).

"Ben, make sure you play Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty" (April 4, 1968, reportedly his last words, to bandleader Ben Branch just moments before the bullet came).