Nation pauses 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr

Our Views: King's voice still lives

This week's Oakland International Film Festival will focus on King's legacy. His shrewd strategy of non-violent protest, charismatic personality, electrifying speaking ability, and soaring words mobilized the black community, challenged centuries of oppression, and changed America.

King rose to prominence after helping lead the Montgomery bus boycott, which led to a US Supreme Court decision that desegregated Alabama's bus system.

There are also marches and other events in Washington D.C. and throughout the country.

Fifty years ago this week, Dr. King delivered his last sermon from the pulpit at the Mason Temple, delivering the Mountaintop Speech the evening before he was shot and killed. 50 years ago on this date, April 4, remains vivid.

Observances marking King's death were planned coast-to-coast.

When he gave that speech, King was in Tennessee supporting Memphis sanitation workers, who were staging a strike for better working conditions and wages after two sanitation employees were crushed to death in a garbage truck. And I've looked over. "I saw his shoes stuck in the grate". "His message of nonviolence was revolutionary - when you get into violence, it takes on a life of its own and nobody comes out clean", he added. "No student is explicitly kept from a school because of race".

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Enraged by King's murder, blacks throughout the nation rioted.

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed a national day of mourning on April 7.

Workers at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees office chanted, banged drums and held signs saying "I Am" - one of the slogans for events surrounding the anniversary of King's death. The National Civil Rights Museum right next door is opening a new exhibit honoring King's life. "I'll take back to Miami, just the same thing that Dr. King has always expressed which is life, peace, and equality with all people".

The street has been named for King since 1972, ever since the Board of Aldermen voted overwhelmingly to rename busy east-west Easton Avenue an...

King's accomplishments are well known.

Alberta Williams King's death is an often-forgotten chapter in the legacy of the civil rights struggle.

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"I really wasn't following it (the civil rights movement)", she recalled. The Baptist pastor's faith played the pivotal role in his fervent quest for political and social change.

At age 91, civil rights leader the Rev. James Lawson was also marching. "This was my first calling" and it "remains my greatest commitment".

The Lorraine Motel is now preserved as part of the National Civil Rights Museum.

One year later he became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize victor at 35 for his non-violent resistance.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

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