Monday, January 17, 2011

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson brings to mind another infamous murder - the April 4, 1968 death of Martin Luther King, Jr:

As a youngster, I was amazed by King's final "I've Been To the Mountaintop" speech, which seemed supernaturally prescient. In retrospect, King's words aren't surprising when you consider the death threats he was receiving:

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, 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. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

It's worth noting that the assassination altered the public's perception of King, who had begun to speak out on a "bill of rights" for the poor (*cough* socialism *cough*) and the Vietnam War. King's death prevented him from dividing the black (and white) communities with those views. Like Obi-Wan Kenobi, in death, King became more powerful than his detractors could possibly imagine.


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