Civil Rights leaders remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Stacy M. Brown – NNPA Wire Service | 4/4/2018, 8:10 p.m.
On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his prophetic but inspirational “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” speech ...

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his prophetic but inspirational “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” speech at the historic Masonic Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.

One day later, the famous civil rights champion was assassinated.

While gunman James Earl Ray’s bullet silenced the legendary leader, his legacy continues to live on through contemporaries like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. and organizations like the NAACP.

Younger organizations, like Color of Change have picked up the mantle, pushing for justice, freedom and equality around the nation.

“In challenging political moments like this one, it can be tempting to give into despair, which makes it all the more critical for our communities to remember our powerful legacy and draw inspiration from leaders like Dr. King, especially now on the 50th anniversary of his assassination,” Rashad Robinson, the executive director of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. “What people too often forget is that beyond inspiring speeches and letters, Dr. King held a deep understanding of strategy and an expert execution of his vision.”

Robinson continued: “From the Montgomery bus boycott that brought a city and industry to its knees to leveraging media as a megaphone for the Civil Rights movements, every day at Color of Change we strive to learn from Dr. King’s proud legacy and all those that stood with him. We hold corporations accountable and demand they do more than just steal Dr. King’s voice for ads, but implement his demands for treating workers fairly and equally.”

Robinson added that today, civil rights groups work to elect district attorneys around the country that are accountable to the community they represent and focused on ending mass incarceration.

“From the classroom to the ballot box to corporate boardrooms and capitol buildings, King’s work to build power and change the rules is the legacy we honor as we create a next generation movement to make justice real,” Robinson said.

The NAACP is honoring King with a series of special events in Memphis.

“As we join our spirit of activism with so many in Memphis for [a] march and rally, our overarching goal is to lift up Dr. King’s legacy of active participation in our democracy,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in a statement.

Joined by organizations like AFSCME, COGIC and a host of workers’ rights leaders, the NAACP will commemorate King during a three-day event beginning Monday, April 2 in Memphis.

“The NAACP is proud that through the calendar of activities drawn from the striking sanitation workers’ iconic slogan, ‘I Am a Man,’ we’ll be able to connect the movements of the past with today’s youth and movements for social change, while symbolically passing the mantle, and strengthening and energizing our Youth and College Division Leadership,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, Jackson who stood on that Lorraine Motel balcony in Memphis the day before the assassination said King’s death redefined America.

“On this anniversary…it always hurts. He was 39-years-old, he was hated by our government, attacked by our government, media, shot, killed in cold blood,” Jackson said.