Bell tolling in remembrance of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday, April 4

Fifty years ago, on Apr. 4, 1968, an assassin’s bullet ended the life of Baptist minister and Civil Rights Movement leader the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Alexander McGaffin Memorial Carillon in University Circle will toll 39 times at 7:05 p.m. on the evening of this coming Apr. 4 in commemoration of the 39 years of Dr. King’s life and in homage to his legacy.

Leaders of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta have appealed to the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America to encourage participation in these solemn moments. Bells will ring at those two organizations at 6:01 p.m. CDT, throughout Memphis and Atlanta at 6:03 p.m. CDT, throughout the U.S. at 6:05 p.m. CDT (7:05 p.m. in Cleveland), and 6:07 p.m. CDT internationally, just as news of Dr. King’s death rippled around the world fifty years ago.

On the night before he was killed, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his final public speech at the Mason Temple, a Pentecostal Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The city’s sanitation workers were on strike at the time, protesting low pay and poor working conditions. King spoke against such injustices, but near the end of his speech, he said this:

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really 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. So 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.”

Easter Sunday can feel like a kind of mountaintop experience. We shout, “Alleluia!” and “Christ is risen!” But, in the gospels, the first Easter Sunday is the end of one story and the beginning of another. The story that begins on Easter is the story of how each one of us will go and share the good news of God’s love. As MLK knew, most of us will not see the Promised Land about which we dream and for which we work – a land of equity and justice, peace and goodwill; a place where all human beings are able to live up to their God-given potential. We may not see it, but our everyday actions can bring humanity ever closer to that dream of creating the beloved, abundant community.

~Amy Starr Redwine

“Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:6-7)


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