Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most influential civil rights leaders, was assassinated. 

On April 4, 1968, the influential civil rights leader and reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--known for progressing the civil rights movement through nonviolence and civil disobedience--was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

Born in the South in 1929, King faced segregation and racism at a young age. In the 1950s and 60s, King led many non-violent protests, keeping to his Christian roots and being inspired by the ideologies of Gandhi, to combat racial inequality.

In 1963, after helping organize the "March on Washington," he gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. This event was a triumph, because a year later, the Civil Rights Act was passed.

On April 3, 1968 in, the day before his death, King gave his very last sermon, now called "I See The Promise Land." During his sermon, he said these important words:

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.  -Martin Luther King Jr.

After reading the sermon I want to ask you, what is the symbolism of the mountain top of our lives? And are we fulfilling it?

King also talked about a "Promise Land." What do you think he meant by that? Was it a place earth, or a place otherwise?

 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.    -Martin Luther King Jr.

 

The day after giving this insightful sermon, while staying at the Lorraine Motel, King went out on the balcony to talk with an associate. James Earl Ray shot King with a bullet that went through King's right cheek, breaking his jaw and several vertebrae as it traveled down his spinal cord, before lodging in his shoulder.

It was a tragic ending to the life of the man who pushed for a new beginning for all Americans.

We sure could use some of his insight and wisdom in today's day and age.

 

Additional Reporting By Abigail Pelissier