“Early morning, April 4th; a shot rings out in the Memphis sky… Free at last, they took your life but they could not take your pride.”
U2’s timeless classic, “Pride in the Name of Love” summed up the death of the freedom fighter and civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., whose battle cost him his life, but left such a deeply profound mark on the hearts and souls of every life he touched that he can never be forgotten.
Although King epitomises the term ‘martyr’ his was not a willing death; he didn’t step into battle against evil-doers knowing or expecting that he would die as a result of his passions. He was a victim of his own utter humanity; a man driven by his desire to see equal rights for people of all races, colours and religions realised, to see an end to the hypocrisy of America’s secret ‘apartheid’.
It seems his message of equality backed by non-violent conflict was too much for some people to handle, especially those of a more right wing extreme and he certainly posed a threat to industrialists and other corporate bodies who stood to lose out on cheap labour should their slaves be woken up to the fact that they were working for a lower income and in poorer working conditions than their white counterparts.
It was on April 4th, 1968, 100 years after Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation, that Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the balcony of his hotel and addressed a crowd of 200,000 people who had gathered to support his efforts to assist sanitation workers. He was shot and killed aged just 39 years of age.
“I have a dream,” said Martin Luther King Jr.
On Sunday 3rd April, 2011 Martin Luther King III visited the St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago where he gave a rousing speech dedicated to his father’s memory. Influenced heavily by his father’s ideologies he said: “I’m sick and tired of people singing about King, rapping about King, even using King to justify policies that we all know he would be against as opposed to embracing the ideals of King. Trying to love your neighbour, like King. Trying to help the poor like King.”
Through his son and every heart he spoke to, the Martin Luther King dream lives on.