Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. 50 Years Later

A dark day in our nation’s history today as we mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and we recognize that our legacy of racism still severely hinders our progress forward today.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., flanked by Reverends Bernard Lee, Jesse Jackson and Ralph Abernathy, looks over notes before his “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech delivered on the eve of his untimely death, April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tenn. (Maurice Sorrell/Ebony Collection via AP Images) Photo: Maurice Sorrell

He had a vision of us as a unified people, a vision that we get glimpses of but still haven’t reached. Seeing his speeches, hearing his words, remembering his strength and determination gives us the impetus to rededicate ourselves to the causes of equality and justice and the dismantling of systemic racism.

When we say equality, it has to be equal access to opportunity. And when we say justice, it has to be economic justice.  Some say that it was King’s more strident and vocal advocacy of economic justice and the rights of workers and unions, his criticisms of the manipulations of the press, and his outspoken targeting of the military industrial complex that ultimately posed a threat to power.

Garment workers at the Abe Schrader Shop listen to the funeral service for Martin Luther King, Jr. on a portable radio. April 8, 1968 (Some rights reserved by Kheel Center, Cornell University Library)

Only a short time before he was shot, he gave a speech that would sound prophetic later.

“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And 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!”

Here is the full speech below

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.