On this day in 1968, gunshots pierced a Memphis morning. Their shrieks echo still. That day’s assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King pushed tidal waves of grief, anger and fear across our country. Because Dr. King was larger than life, hate ended his life –
– but not his dream. As an adept student of history both political and spiritual, Dr. King knew that his dream would need to outlive him. With a prophet’s vision, Dr. King even seemed to foretell his own death one day earlier, while speaking to a labor gathering in Memphis: “I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” Hours later, Dr. King lay dead and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy stood atop a truck, recalling his own brother’s assassination to join with a nation on its knees.
On that day nearly 55 years later, our Promised Land is yet ahead. Can we yet say that justice flows like a mighty stream? Can we yet claim with integrity to judge by the content of character? Has hate stopped piercing our days and nights? We still have a ways to go, many names to speak, and much yet to do.
Especially today, the anniversary of Dr. King’s murder, it’s on us to summon Dr. King’s prophetic vision and see the Promised Land into being. It’s on us to speak sometimes inconvenient truths, to press their truth even to our nearest and dearest, and to live them — whatever the price and however long it takes.
May Dr. King’s memory be for a blessing, and may he rest in our undying power to bring his dream to life.