On the 4th day of April, it will be 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. bled and died in Memphis TN.
Last summer, my wife and I traveled back to the South with a film crew making a documentary for Dutch Television.
We visited Rev. Andrew Young in Atlanta. We knew him from the Movement.
We went to the Ebenezer Baptist Church. We talked with Martin Luther King III in the sanctuary.
When I last talked to him, he was a small boy but he remembered me. He even remembered the walkie talkies I gave him and his little brother after their father died.
The three of us walked to the tomb of Dr. King and Coretta Scout King,
Martin stood and looked and talked about how he couldn’t understand his father dying and how it was even harder for his little brother. He spoke about his father’s funeral and the loudspeakers and his father’s voice booming to them and how confused and sad it made him feel to hear his father’s voice and know he would not come home ever again. Ironically, that resounding voice that gave us Hope made two young boys even sadder – even more confused. I read those immortal words engraved on the tomb:
“Free at last, Free at last,
Thank God, Almighty, I am Free at last”
I thought about how I felt so long ago. How I didn’t think Dr. King could die. No one did, except – maybe Dr. King.!
The night before he bled and died, he said,
“I’ve been to the mountain top,
and I’ve seen the promised land.
I may not get there with you,
but I want you to know
that we, as a people
will get to the Promised Land.”
The campaign to end Segregation was successful. The Voting Rights Act passed. We were working on the Poor People’s Campaign. We were making progress! We were “Getting to the Promised Land!”
We all went to the chapel and prayed. When I was getting my coat,it was as if I heard Dr. King’s voice. “It’s OK Harcourt. It’s O.K.”
We flew to Atlanta the next day. I went to the office. There was a wreath on the door. That’s when I really realized Dr. King was dead.
Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. “Daddy King” preached the sermon the following Sunday. “I am going on,” he said. “I want to see what’s at the end of the road.”
Someone once asked me: “Did you give up all hope?”
It was a strange idea. Yet, I could understand her feelings.
“You can kill the Dreamer, but you can’t kill the Dream!”
No! I Did Not Give Up Hope. We Did Not and We Will Not Give Up Hope!
“Here comes this dreamer.”
“Come, now let us kill him….
and we will see what becomes of his dreams!”