On Monday, January 20, 2014, we are celebrating “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” here in America and this yearly event has brought memories flooding back for me.
For it was back in 1969, when I was sent out on one of my first interviews as a new journalist with Billy Graham’s London newspaper, The Christian. It was with Coretta Scott King and it took place many months after the murder of her husband on April 4, 1968.
Dr. King was cut down by a bullet from the gun of James Earl Ray, as he was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
We talked in the home of Canon John Collins of St. Paul’s Cathedral just before Mrs. King was about to become the first woman to preach at a statutory service at the massive cathedral.
As I watched her four children scamper around the house -- just like any other children of their age – I thought of the pain they must all have been through.
I looked at Mrs. King and asked if she was worried about suffering the same fate as her late husband.
“I have lived with the threat so long now I hardly think about it,” she said her eyes ablaze. “I must do what I must do!”
She glanced across the room at her four children, and added, “My children are with me in this.”
Shortly after the interview, Mrs. King stood in the same carved pulpit in St. Paul's Cathedral where her husband preached five years earlier.
“Many despair at all the evil and unrest and disorder in the world today,” she preached, “but I see a new social order and I see the dawn of a new day.”
Mrs. King continued with the work of her late husband until her death on January 30, 2006 at the age of 78. She had worked tirelessly for racial equality after he was assassinated and fought successfully for a national holiday in memory of him. She also founded The King Center in Atlanta to preserve his legacy.
Speaking in 2003 on the 40th anniversary of her husband's best known speech, Mrs. King urged the crowds to follow the peaceful path that he preached.
Just like her husband, she also had a dream!
Note: On January 13, 1979, the United States Postal Service unveiled a 15 cent commemorative stamp as a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. during ceremonies at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. It was the 10th stamp in honor of a Black American and the second stamp issued in the Black Heritage USA Series which recognizes the contributions of Black Americans to the development of the United States. The U.S. Postal Service issued 166,435,000 King stamps.
Courtesy ASSIST News Service. Used with permission.
Dan Wooding, 73, is an award-winning journalist who who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 50 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS) and he hosts the weekly “Front Page Radio” show on the KWVE Radio Network in Southern California and which is also carried throughout the United States and around the world. He is the author of some 45 books, the latest of which is a novel about the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother called Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary.
Publication date: January 20, 2014