“It was David Moses. It took awhile before the

sound of his voice … got through me.

He said, ”Jimmy—? Martin’s just been shot,””

— James Baldwin, No Name in the Street

 

It was outside this room while leaning on the rail that Dr. King was struck and killed by a sniper’s bullet.

 

On the fateful day of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, as he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of Memphis. King was only 39 years old then.

Now, more than a half-century later, the US has a federal holiday in King’s memory, a beautiful stone monument of him next to the National Mall, and countless schools, streets and parks named after him. Many think that the US government has whitewashed the legacy of Martin. The much hate for this man came after his famous speech against Vietnam War where Martin condemned the US was saying, “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” King said. “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”

The fierce urgency of now require of us to not remember him as a saint but as a lawbreaker, a defender of human rights who was arrested more than 30 times for doing the right thing. The extraordinary times we are living in where racism and xenophobia are rising on unprecedented scale, the struggles of King demand that we remember him as one who warned against the triple evils of racism, poverty and war.