A man who changed the world was our own. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a son of the South in general, and Atlanta in particular.
Much of the nation and world observed, and even mourns still, his passing from this earth 50 years ago last week. Murdered by an assassin’s bullet, King’s death — and life — are well worth the solemn remembrance accorded the sad occasion in recent days.
King was a leading figure in a tumultuous, controversial American age. His brash, yet humble, pursuit of a better America for all led to his being both revered and reviled during his short life. A matchless orator, backed by brilliant strategists and a legion of supporters in both high and low places, King managed to move America considerably closer to the ideals laid out by the nation’s founders.
He paid with his life as a result.
The movement to improve the lives of both African-Americans and poor people of all colors faltered after King’s murder. But it did not die. That is a credit to the honorable and decent cause that he, and many others, pushed so hard to fulfill.
America today is in a similar national mood as in the fateful year of 1968. Anger and despair clash harshly against optimism and faith. People are as inclined to shout at each other, as they are to respectfully listen to other viewpoints.
The parallels raise a natural question of where does this nation travel from here? Today, we offer viewpoints both celebrating Rev. King’s work and sacrifice, and examining what’s next for the country and people he loved enough to sacrifice his life for.
Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board.
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Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com