There will be no shortage of Martin Luther King Jr. coverage in the media this week, as we mark the 40th anniversary of his tragic death. If you’ve read, watched, or listened to anything in particular that you’d like to bring to the attention of others, or if there’s some upcoming programming that you’re aware of (like this documentary premiering on The History Channel this weekend), please let us know.
Here are a few interesting items that I ran across today:
1. This morning on the way to work, I listened to a wonderful NPR interview with Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles, who was at Memphis’s Mason Temple Church of God in Christ on the night of April 3, 1968, when Dr. King delivered his prophetic “Mountaintop” speech. It was the eve of his assassination.
2. USA Today features a nice piece on 25 Memphis sanitation workers who are still on the job, 40 years after King came to the city to march on their behalf during a labor dispute. According to the article, “They are a living testament to the final, unfinished chapter in King’s crusade for equal rights: to end poverty through guaranteed jobs with decent wages.”
3. The Economist carries a sobering report card on America’s progress in the realm of social justice and equality since King’s murder. In its dry, rather matter-of-fact fashion (it is a British publication, after all), the report lists the myriad challenges of racial and class inequality that remain to be solved in our nation, despite the enormous strides we’ve seen as a result of the civil rights movement.
4. Dr. King takes up one of the chapters of my book, Reconciliation Blues. But I first wrote about him at length for Christianity Today ten years ago. That article was in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of his death. How time flies.
One of my colleagues at work remarked that she had this nagging feeling that, if King were around today he’d seem a lot more like Jeremiah Wright than Barack Obama. We batted that one around for several minutes. It’s presumptuous, of course, to speculate about how Dr. King’s life and ministry would’ve evolved had he lived. But events like this 40th anniversary—and the history of his last days—are important reminders that “I Have a Dream” was only one part of his complex and increasingly radical message.