Mourning King, and the Vision

For those of you who heard the first ''feed'' of our broadcast today you might have heard something in my voice at the end of it and wondered what was going on ... I'm not too proud (but slightly embarrassed) to admit I had trouble getting through my final copy.

We had just played an excerpt from Dr. King's final public address in Memphis, Tennessee, the night before he was killed ... and my only job was to remind people of what they'd just heard and say goodbye.

I have heard that speech so many times before, I've seen the grainy footage, I've heard him say "I may not get there with you... "

And yet ... I cried ...

Who knows what makes people cry? What was on my mind? I'm not sure ... I think I cried because although my faith tells me that a powerful hand steers each of our destinies, I still grieve. I grieve for his children, who lost their father when the youngest was too young to remember her father's touch or smell. I grieve for all of the children who lost a man who helped this nation be better. I grieve because being shot by a man you can't see while you watch the stars is a terrible way to die. I grieve because too many young people have shared that fate even this week ... shot down while watching the stars or going to school or washing their cars or watching a pickup basketball game ... it is all so senseless ...

I mourn this loss today ...

We've asked you to share your memories about how you learned about his death; I'll share mine if you don't mind. I was at a Girl Scouts' meeting; I think we were making macaroni art or something and all the mothers came busting in ... they were early ... and we couldn't figure out why they were there because nobody told us ... but the next thing I remember was standing with my mother and a knot of other mothers and kids, the mothers talking in low, urgent voices, the kind parents use around their kids when they don't want the kids to be in the conversation. I remember being apprehensive but not really scared but I remember something like anger in the mothers' voices, and that was curious to me ... what were they angry about?

All I remember after that, and this had to have been sometime later but I don't remember exactly, is my father, a firefighter, calling to tell us he wouldn't be home for many days ... he didn't know when ... I remember him telling my mother to stock up on food if she could, to keep us inside, and to fill every available container with water. And then riots started ... and that's another story ...

We'll pick up that story on Monday ...

And now ... some announcements ... Cheryl Corley will be sitting in tomorrow ... I'll be attending in Atlanta where someone important to me is being honored ...

It's in keeping with the spirit of the day I think? I think tomorrow can be a day where we do more than mourn a death - but celebrate a life, a legacy, and a vision ...

Thanks to Cheryl for disrupting her life again so I can live mine ...

And we say goodbye ... for now ... to our web producer Lee Hill. He's leaving us to head off for some specialized training in digital media ... we'll miss him (but we plan to call him often and annoy him so feel free to leave ideas for obnoxious messages for us to pass on). In his absence Arwa Gunja and Douglas Hopper will take over the blog and website production ...

As Garrison Keillor says at the end of his daily Writer's Almanac ... Be well. Do good work. Stay in touch.

And I'll see you next week ...



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Thank you for you emotions at the end of your Thursday segment of Dr. King's "Mountain Top" speech. I listen to your show and other NPR shows via podcaset and quiet often I hear a wide array of emotions but on Thursday's show was the first time I've heard genuine sadness from a host. I'm 33 and did not have the great fortune to hear Dr. King speech but I have heard a number of his speeches and I too get emotional. So I write this to simply say "Thank you". You gave the segment, your show, NPR and me a piece of your heart. Thank you once again.

Sent by Eric | 12:09 PM | 4-4-2008

A very well selected snippet of an amazing speech. I did notice something at the end. A human moment. Thank you.

Sent by Randy | 2:00 PM | 4-4-2008

I was not alive when King was assassinated, but I've heard the story from my parents on numerous occasions. I can only imagine the grief and sadness at learning of his death.

I'm sorry to hear that Lee is leaving. Good Look Lee! I enjoying hear the conversations between you and him on the backtalk segment.

Sent by ernise | 2:38 PM | 4-4-2008

I heard the catch in Michel's voice as she signed off today. I too was filled with emotion hearing Dr. Kings words. I was 15 at the time and probably ditching all my other classes to go to the music building to practice my trumpet. I can only remember how much time I spent practicing those days. I was pretty oblivious to the rest of the world, but when I got home and heard the news that evening a deep feeling of sadness and dread came over me.
Thank you Michel for kindness and humanity that comes through in every broadcast. I podcast you everyday. I am a faithful daily listener.

Sent by KJ | 7:26 PM | 4-4-2008

I was so moved by your program today. Bishop Blake's vision for African and African American children is so vital for our world t. I was also moved to tears by Dr. Kings speech given 40 years ago this evening. I will give a short but, I hope, meaningful, sermon in our church on Sunday about my conversation with my 6 year old grandson about Dr. Kings strong words. I would love to share it with you but I am not sure how to do that.

Sent by Nannie B. | 7:27 PM | 4-4-2008

I was ten years old and on a family vacation with my father and stepmother in Columbia South Carolina. My father and stepmother had gone on to Savannah, Georgia for what they had hoped would be a romantic weekend. When I heard the news I was with some nice, but prejudiced people who I did not really know that well. They were afraid of retaliation from black people. I recall thinking how strange that idea was, since Dr. King stood for peace and justice. But their fear crept into me and I knew that was wrong. I had not thought about that day until I heard some of the "Mountaintop Speech" this morning. I feel so lucky to actually remember Dr. King and what he stood for. I hope we can all feel the hope he felt and continue to try to do our best to make his dream a reality.

Sent by Tracey K. | 7:28 PM | 4-4-2008

My parents haven't met nor had me when that day happened but the impact of Dr. King's words and life definitely had an impact on them and later, me. So like millions yesterday, I took some time to reflect on what such sacrifice meant to his family and for this great country.

As for the emotion in the latter part of the speech; thanks for debunking the notion journalists were to stay neutral with no emotion - it was heartwarming to hear a glimpse of humanity.

Finally, all the best to Lee! Remind him to have some mojito :-)

Sent by Moji | 3:49 PM | 4-5-2008

Well, I have heard that speech ending any number of times, especially during the last week, and I still cry every time I hear it. The power of his delivery is at that closing is overwhelming. Besides, how anyone can be alive these days and not cry is beyond me.

Sent by Ruth Simms | 1:17 PM | 4-7-2008


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