Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Martin Luther King Remembered

I cannot let this day pass without remembering that today is the 39th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King at age 39 by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. King's assassination was the second in the series of three assassinations in the '60's that deprived America of its best and brightest leadership -- John F. Kennedy in 1963, Martin Luther King in 1967 and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. It is hard to imagine today the murderous history of America in that decade. And it is all the more painful to reflect upon it at a time like the present when the country suffers under the degraded and failed leadership of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

It is an odd coincidence that all of the three great and stirring speeches I have heard in my lifetime also occurred in the 1960's: John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address (text) (video) of January 20, 1961; Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963; and Abba Eban's speech to the U.N. Security Council of June 6, 1967, defending Israel's Six Day War.

The full video of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech of August 28, 1963, appears at the head of this post. It is well worth every one of the 17 minutes it takes to view it. It is as moving today as it was on that hot, humid day in Washington 44 years ago.

Postscript: I cannot let a tribute to Martin Luther King on the anniversary of his assassination end without mentioning Robert F. Kennedy's moving extemporaneous statement on the night of the assassination. The link will take you to an audio recording of Bobby's remarks accompanied by a photo montage of the times.

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