We will be celebrating “Martin Luther King Jr. Day” here in America this Monday (January 17, 2011), 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.
|St. Paul’s Cathedral where she preached|
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 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!”
|Mrs. King plays the piano for her young children|
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!