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40 Years Since

By Abby at 4:58 pm on Friday, April 4, 2008

Image from Time Magazine’s “The Last Days of Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Last night just after midnight, I remembered on my own that it was April 4th, the day Dr. King was shot. I always remember it because of the line in the U2 song “Pride (In the Name of Love)” off their Unforgettable Fire album. It came out when I was in high school, and I remember U2 coming to town to see Coretta Scott King when it was released. The line is:

Early morning, April 4. A shot rings out in the Memphis sky. Free at last. They took your life. They could not take your pride.

My senior recital at Oberlin was April 4th, 1992. It was easy to remember that date because it coincided with King’s death. Growing up in Atlanta and attending Atlanta Public, Dr. King was always in the curriculum. The King Center for Nonviolent Social Change is in Atlanta, and I spent a winter term during college working in the media department there. I got to meet Coretta Scott King in person in her office. I was pretty star struck, actually. I couldn’t believe I was in a meeting with her. It was surreal.

I was born in Memphis in November 1969. I always thought it strange that the man who had such an effect on my life and the society in which I grew up was never alive at the same time as me. There was this story my dad used to tell about how he was chief resident on call at the emergency room in Memphis when King was shot. I was sitting here trying to remember all the details when I had the genius thought: I bet Dad blogged about it today. I was right. Here it is: His telling of that day in Memphis, April 4th, 1968.

I was an Intern at the City of Memphis Hospitals on this day forty years ago. We had a shortage of Residents, and I’d been temporarily promoted to “admitting resident” for the day. I was proud to be asked, but had spent the day terrified I was going to make some fatal mistake, send someone home who died or create some indelible medical catastrophe. That evening, I was sitting alone pondering the day, glad that both I and the patients had survived, when I got a call from my wife that Dr. King had been shot downtown.

It wasn’t an easy time to be in Memphis…

Read the rest of Dad’s story: Link

Memphis Mississippi Pano

I lived in Memphis from August 2004 – August 2005. I’m not sure why or how it happened, but it seems that the fruits of the Civil Rights Movement never really “took” in Memphis. It’s like there’s a black cloud over the city. I’ve heard other people describe it in similar ways. While there are many wonderful things there, the color line and the poverty line seem to be identical. The gap between rich and poor, the haves and the have-nots. It feels huge. Maybe it’s because I was working with victims of domestic violence and abuse and in the Memphis Public Schools, but I certainly felt while living there that Memphis was a city that was still in need of healing. What a burden to bear. If you ever get there, go to the Civil Rights Museum. It it housed in the Lorraine Hotel, where Dr. King was staying when he was shot, that fateful April day.

Filed under: Dad's Wisdom,Family,Memphis,Ramblings/Brain Dumps/Opinions,Stories From My Life1 Comment »

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Comment by parental unit

April 4, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

I know that after King’s murder, Memphis never quite felt the same to me. Even years later when you lived there for that year and we visited, I felt haunted by those days of chaos and Martial Law. Before, I had been a student, I guess it was the last part of whatever youth means. But with his murder, things became more serious…

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