Fifty years ago Wednesday, Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
An event to commemorate his death was held at the state capital and dozens gathered to celebrate King’s legacy of love in pursuit of justice.
Ohio state lawmaker Hearcel Craig participated in the event as a speaker and says King impacted his life greatly.
“For me, it meant everything; from a mother coming here with very little to a have the opportunity to go to college,” said Craig.
Craig was a freshman in college when King was assassinated. He was on a bus coming home when it happened.
“It was painful, you know, I wept,” said Craig.
And he got angry too. Craig says he just wanted to do something. It would eventually lead him to public service.
Hundreds of miles away Rev. Joel L King, Jr. felt a similar pain. Joel was a first cousin to King; their fathers were brothers.
He was mopping a floor in South Carolina when King was assassinated in Memphis.
“I’ll never forget that night,” said Joel King. “Everybody just dropped their mops; dropped everything and said we’re going home; we’re going home now, that’s it.”
But for Joel King, he felt trepidation instead of anger. “If you kill that man, what’s gonna happen to the rest of us?” wondered King.
It’s been 50 years since shots rang out at the Lorraine Motel and a dreamer died. But Martin Luther King Jr’s dream persists.
“The way to remember him is to pick up the struggle today,” said Joel King during the memorial ceremony in the atrium of the Ohio Statehouse. “Poverty and inequality and racism are still a threat to our democracy and our freedom in this world and our country.”
The choir led those in attendance with a rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome,”
In just a few weeks, on Mother’s Day, a resurrection of Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign is expected to kick off.
The 40-day campaign will focus on the plight of the poor and has been updated for the 21st century, but will still undertake efforts to coordinate non-violent civil disobedience.