April 4, 2018 was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King was a Baptist minister in Atlanta, Georgia and activist who was the most visible spokesman and leader of the American civil rights movement from 1954 through 1968. King developed tactics for advancing civil rights through nonviolence. He was often quoted as saying that Mahatma Gandhi, who led India to its independence from Britain, influenced him. King became the president of the Southern Christian leadership conference, which became the platform for his activism. King joined the ministry in 1954 and became the pastor of the Dexter Ave., Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. With the SCLC, King led the struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia and he organized non-violent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. As well as the 1963 march on Washington, where he delivered his famous I have a dream speech. King was awarded the Nobel peace prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance in 1964. In 1965, he helped organize the southern marches and the following year he took the SCLC to Chicago for work on segregated housing. King made a fateful decision to oppose the Vietnam War in 1967 against the advice of many of his supporters. His position on the war caused people in the civil rights movement turn away from King with many believing their dedication was to do away with segregation and Vietnam was somebody else’s battle. King was jailed several times during his activities on behalf of civil rights and he wrote his profound letters from the Birmingham jail outlining the case against segregation. In 1968, King was in Memphis, Tennessee where the garbage workers, virtually all black, went on strike for better wages and safety within the workplace. King wished to attend a rally on April 3 rd , but couldn’t attend due to illness. He was convinced to go and say a few words where he ended giving the most prolific speech when he told the gathered crowd that “we have some difficult days ahead, but it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop…like anybody I would like to live a long life and longevity has its place, but I’m not concerned about that now. I just want God’s will to allow me to go back up on that mountain. And I looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land I may not get there with you, but I want you to know that tonight we as a people will get to the promised land so I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
Then on the next day, while standing outside his motel room door he was assassinated by James Earl Ray. America lost one of its greatest heroes. He is the only non-president to have his birthday become a federal holiday. Christopher Columbus being the other. Recently construction was just
finished at his monument on the capital mall.