On April 4th, in the year of Our Lord, 1968, at 6:01 PM, in my home state, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by a man named James Earl Ray. I was 4 1/2 years old.
We as a nation lost a great man that day. In a way, we collectively killed a great man that day. He was martyred for the beliefs that we all knew were true, but which we didn’t want to believe, because to do so would have meant that we, as a nation, would have to change our ways. So an assassin’s bullet settled the matter for us. And though Martin lost his life on that day, the assassin’s purpose was thwarted, and the lives of the rest of us changed for the better.
The day before Rev. King was assassinated, he preached a sermon known as the I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech. Here is a clip from his last speech,
He’s talking about the Constitution there, you know. My life, my wife’s life, and my children’s lives, are immeasurably better because of what this man spoke out about for all of us in our country. Martyrd because he dared ask that the God given rights that the Framers drafted onto parchment, should apply to all Americans, and not just some of them. But enough of my feeble words. He said everything that needed to be said on April 3, 1968. Today, on the day when our country belatedly gives him his due, allow me to let Bono & Company sing this lamentation for him. Let us dance and sing in triumph for what he accomplished in Our Lord and Savior’s name.
Say a prayer for the soul of Martin Luther King Jr., for his family, and thank God that He called him to speak the truth to help set free the captives, which hindsight being 20-20 we know were all of us. And while we’re at it, join me in saying a prayer for the soul of James Earl Ray too.
From the National Archives: Findings on the MLK Assassination.