Apr 5, 2018
MEMPHIS, TN – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today 50 years after his assassination.
In President Donald Trump’s proclamation to honor King he said, “It is not government that will achieve Dr. King’s ideals, but rather the people of this great country who will see to it that our Nation represents all that is good and true, and embodies unity, peace, and justice. We must actively aspire to secure the dream of living together as one people with a common purpose.”
At 6.01 p.m., 50 years to the minute that King was killed by an assassin’s bullet, at the site of the former Lorraine Motel which is now the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, a bell erected off to the side of the balcony where King took his last breath tolled 39 times, once for each year of his life. More than 200 churches and universities around the world joined in ringing their own bells in King’s memory.
A group of middle school, high school and college students launched a March to Memphis 50-mile walk on Saturday, March 31, 2018 from northern Mississippi along Highway 61 and finished at the former Lorraine Hotel yesterday. The 50-mile distance represents one mile for each year since King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The teens walked 10-15 miles each day and participated in community meetings along the way. The teenagers wanted to not only honor all that King achieved, but to show how racial justice, economic justice and racial reconciliation can be advanced in and by the next generation.
At the age of thirty-five, King was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize and turned the $54,123 prize money over to the furtherance of the non-violent civil rights movement. Jailed for violating a law used to stop him from protesting injustice, King wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” to seven clergymen and one rabbi. In 1963, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which cemented his status as a social change leader and helped inspire the nation to act on civil rights. That speech is among the most revered orations and writings in the English language.
King’s grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1894 to 1931; King’s father served from 1931 until August 1, 1975. From 1960 until his death Martin Luther King, Jr. acted as co-pastor with his father.
“Dr. King should be remembered foremost as a man of faith — and by consequence a martyr for truth,” said Liberty Counsel’s Director of Public Policy Jonathan Alexandre. “His testimony reveals that the source, motivation, and power behind his resolve was his faith in God. For King, his life work in the civil rights movement was an expression of ‘Christianity in action.’”
“We have to continually stand against unrighteous assaults on our First Amendment rights and Martin Luther King, Jr. was willing to do that, even unto his death,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.