Saturday, January 15, 2011
The black motel where Martin Luther King stayed when in Memphis. He was there on April 3, 1968 to speak to the 1300 black sanitation workers who were striking for equal treatment with the white workers. The next day King was shot and killed while leaving his room. As leader of the nonviolent-protest movement for black equality, and a defender of the natural rights of fellow humans, he is a hero of mine.
I hold high standards for heroes: one must live a life of selfless dedication to others and their welfare over individual comfort; a hard life to live. I guess mother Teresa would qualify as would Ghandi, Doctors Without Borders, hospice volunteers, and a thousand others unknown to me but could qualify nonetheless -- you will know them when you feel their grace.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige and even his life for the welfare of others."
-- Strength in Love (1963) Martin Luther King Jr.-- A Baptist Minister
It might seem that he knew of his impending death since the speech the night before ended with these words:
"And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?
Well, I don't know what will happen now, we've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop and I don'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. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." (see text of the complete speech)
On a lighter note, if you ever get to Memphis visit the Peabody Hotel downtown. They have a group of ducks which are brought down daily on the elevator from their pen on the roof, to waddle over to the fountain in the lobby to spend the day.
Ducks in Memphis, what a treat!
I couldn't resist pictures of the ducks and fountain. The black stone of the fountain is of one piece of travertine marble from Italy, installed in 1925.