11. The Road to Memphis 1 The dream that King had of nonviolence was being threatened as riots wrenched America's cities year after year. There were many deaths and damage was severe. 2 But people were poor and frustrated. Martin Luther King from the beginning had said that there were twin evils of segregation and poverty that were destroying our great nation. 3 And the ghettoes were rank with joblessness, hunger, and dope addiction, and sickness. But the ghetto riots hurt King deeply. More and more, he turned to the problem of poverty. 4 King led more marches, but now they were outside of the South and sought to insure better homes and schools and employment for ghetto people. And Dr. King went 5 to the big cities of the North where housing discrimination was engrained, and there his marches were met with what he described as the ugliest response there could be. 6 In Chicago, his marches were violently stoned, and Dr. King was hit -- the overall tone was one that reflected the deep-seeded fear that arises from prejudice seething for years. 7 But his efforts would find some success as the courts and Congress would meet the test and eventually ban housing discrimination, but not until after his marching was done. 8 All through this time, the nation was tore apart by the continuing Vietnam war, and against its conduct, King finally spoke out, expressing the nation's conscience and doubts. 9 He said he was disappointed greatly in America, and he said that there could be no such disappointment where there was no great love -- and that was one thing Dr. King has much of. 10 Though he was condemned by some of those who felt that he should have limited his efforts to the civil rights quest and not war and poverty, to him, it was all the same fight ultimately. 11 Now he would say that the struggle he'd led had been one thing some would meet with dread, but that it hadn't cost the nation much. The effort now would not be such. 12 Another march on DC was being planned of poor people, black and white, from across the land, for 'jobs or income,' and not just for those, but for economic growth from which they rose. 13 Black garbage workers in Memphis were on strike for a pay raise and better conditions. He might be able to help them. He went there and planned to lead a march in support. And the march began. 12. Free At Last 1 But during the march, springing as the fruit of desperation, some black teens began to loot, and a riot broke out. The march had to end, and King was injured by those to whom he was friend. 2 Saddened, he went home, but he returned. To give in to violence, he had never turned. With Dr. King's help, another march was planned just as April of 1968 began. 3 There might have been those who now could see that Dr. King's impact was increasingly sweeping the nation, joining black with white, the poor and the young and unions in the fight, 4 a fight that might rekindle as it would spread the American System dream that once had fed our Revolution. Dr. King had received a great many death threats, and so he grieved. 5 On April the third, he made a speech in Memphis which echoed his ability to preach, on the eve of the march that he had planned, and Americans listened across all the land. 6 "But death doesn't matter with me now," he said. "Because I've been to the mountaintop," he went on ahead. "And I've looked over and I have seen the Promised Land. I may not make it there with you," his voice ran, 7 "but we as a people will make it . . ," said King "to the Promised Land," his voice began to sing. "And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not fearing any man," he outpoured. "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." 8 The next day, April 4th, King met with his men and reiterated his faith in nonviolence again, and then stepped outside onto the balcony outside his motel room and spoke expectantly 9 to a friend down below in the parking lot, and asked him to be certain that he would not forget to play for him at services that night his favorite hymn, Precious Lord. It would be done right. 10 Then suddenly, there echoed across, the sound of a rifle shot, and the bullet found its mark, and ripped into King's face, and slammed him against the wall of the place. 11 And then Dr. King fell down to the floor. Less than an hour later, he was no more. On that April the Fourth, 1968, Martin Luther King had met his fate. 12 America was torn in grief and shock. The nation cried and the nation was rocked. From our midst, one man had passed; "Thank God Almighty; I'm Free At Last," 13 were the words etched onto his tombstone. But after his body was carried home, and laid to rest, his words would ring out in the changed America that he had brought about. Continue