Skip to comments.Martin Luther King's Last Days: 40 Years Ago (April 3, 1968)
Posted on 04/03/2008 5:56:14 AM PDT by Nextrush
Dr. Martin Luther King originally wanted to stage a new march in Memphis on Friday April 5th, 1968 but decided to push the march back to Monday the 8th so labor leaders could show up.
The City of Memphis was afraid of more violence if King led another march on behalf of the striking sanitation workers. They went to federal court seeking an injunction.
Federal District Judge Bailey Brown issued a temporary restraining order against a march on Monday April 8th.
It was with that court order in mind that Dr. King made what would be his last speech. The speech is often described as Dr. King's premonition of his death:
"We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now. I've been to the mountain top. I won't mind. 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..."
Dr. Martin Luther King emerged on the national scene with the Montgomery bus boycott in the mid 1950's. The boycott's modest demands like politeness from bus drivers went alongside a legal case that ended with a legal victory and the end of forcing black passengers to the back of city buses.
King found favor. He met President Eisenhower and Vice-President Nixon. King also served as a worship leader during Billy Graham's 1957 New York Crusade.
In 1960 Georgia authorities jailed Martin Luther King and Democrat Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy called his wife while his campaign manager brother Robert Kennedy called the judge who put King in jail to protest.
The Kennedy Administration wanted to contain Dr. King and use him to help gradually challenge southern election laws and add more black voters to the rolls who would vote for the Democrats. Of course JFK needed to keep his support with white Democrats in the south meanwhile and so the go slow approach.
Dr. King began to develop a strategy of civil disobedience over segregation to force change. He tried it in Albany, Georgia in 1962. However, the local police chief Lawrie Pritchett used peaceful tactics in response to King's.
The Kennedy Administration quietly intervened to defuse conflict by having a Justice Department official secretly bail Martin Luther King out of jail so he wouldn't become a martyr. Albany was a failure for King.
He developed a secret plan known only to a few close confidants to protest in the spring of 1963 in Birmingham.
Birmingham would be a resounding success for King as film cameras rolled on police dogs, hoses and water cannons. Images of children marching into police wagons to be taken to jail shocked the nation.
Bull Connor's rough tactics played well to the cameras creating outrage and sympathy worldwide for the civil rights protestors.
White liberals and black Americans were drawn to civil rights and President Kennedy was forced to cave and support a strong Civil Rights Act.
In the months after Birmingham President Kennedy presured Dr. King to distance himself from Communists to clear the way for the political battle over civil rights.
And maybe worried about King trying more protests in the 1964 election year, but for whatever reason the Kennedy Administration moved to keep an eye on Martin Luther King. Attorney General Robert Kennedy first authorized the FBI tapping the phones of Dr. King's lawyer, then Dr. King himself.
The infomation about the wiretapping of Martin Luther King was ordered sealed for 50 years in 1977 by a federal judge.
But a document about the taps on his lawyers phone reveals that Dr. King met numerous "mistresses" in the weeks before the August 1963 rally in Washington and his "I have a dream" speech.
The massive crowd was drawn to Dr. King in the aftermath of Birmingham. Birmingham was hailed as a great moment of non-violence with Dr. King's letter from the jail, the Birmingham Principles and his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
But, shortly after the negotiated settlement of the Birmingham conflict, a series of bombings aimed at black people including the deadly church bombings ignited passions and rioting resulted.
The images of Birmingham were burned into the minds of black Americans who took to the streets more often to protest.
Whenever a black person was arrested or shot by police for whatever reason, people asked questions or just became angry.
The upshot of Birmingham was that whenever a black person was hurt by a white person in a real or imagined way, action would happen up to and including riots in the streets.
As the 1960's moved on more violence spread across the country with deadly riots in major cities. New radical leaders calling for "black power" appeared on the scene and were extensively covered by the mainstream media.
Dr. King himself moved into the movement protesting the Vietnam War in 1967.
There was a new environment for Martin Luther King to operate in where black violence and white anger were bouncing off each other.
Violence and fear had become the order of the day and Martin Luther King continued to speak of "nonviolence" in a world where many practiced anything but that.
But it was a world of violence that one could argue Dr. King himself opened up with the Birmingham conflict and the white backlash to it back in 1963.
Kind of a shame that Dr. King’s dream has been perverted by the likes of the NOI and idiots like Jesse and Al.
All those Dems in town is really scary!
Dr. King, Baptist preacher and Republican... JJ and Al Sharpy aren’t worth using his name.