By Nelson A. King
Brooklyn’s Caribbean legislators on Wednesday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of America’s foremost civil rights leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 4, 1968, Dr. King’s life was taken by an assassin’s bullet at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tn.
New York State Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte said “the life and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will never die.
“This is a day that did not just impact America, but it changed the world,” said Bichotte, who represents the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn. “Dr. King was recognized around the world for his efforts towards peace and equality in a land that did not want to include everyone, and violently made that clear.
“He was looked upon as a pest and a nuisance by some, and was revered as a hero and a leader by those who understood his desire,” she added, noting that Rev. King was in Memphis as part of the Poor People’s Movement.
“After the historic push for Civil Rights, which resulted in landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1965, and the Voting Rights Act of 1964, Dr. King recognized the economic vulnerability of many Americans,” Bichotte continued. “The Poor People’s Movement was a movement that he would never see materialize but is something that we still need today.”
She said Dr. King also represented the “moral fabric of a conflicted society,” stating that he was a visionary and a “consistent voice for justice.
“Fifty years later, many of the same ills that afflicted this country remain ever present,” Bichotte said. “We honor Dr. King, by not just working towards his dream, but by completing the mission.
“We must continue the push for justice, and economic equality. We must remain vigilant, determined and unified. If we do not, keep pushing we will be pushed over. The consequences of the latter will have devastating and lasting effects on everything that we have worked for. Now, more than ever, the onus is on us,” Bichotte asserted.
New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (D-Brooklyn) said it was a “cowardly act” that took Dr. King’s life, stating that “the world lost one of the most visionary leaders, most effective activists, most inspirational figures, in our history.
“Dr. King was murdered while fighting for justice for oppressed and neglected communities, which made him a target of violence by those who embraced bigotry, opposing and fearing the transformational change that Dr. King represented,” said Williams, representative for the 45th Council District in Brooklyn.
“While Dr. King advocated for his causes peacefully, his opposition resorted to abhorrent violence,” added Williams, a candidate for Lieutenant Gov. of New York State. “During his life, Dr. King never ceded to fear for himself, instead following his steadfast convictions to fight for progress, innovation, and revolution.”
He said many of the injustices that Dr. King fought against still exist today, “disguised under a veil of what is perceived by some to be equality.”
Williams said if Dr. King was alive today, he would see an America that is “bitterly divided and a culture of hatred that has risen to greater prominence.
“It is clear, then, that we must take up his message and his cause and continue to demand equality,” he urged. “As we reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy, it is of vital importance that we do not allow that legacy to be misconstrued or sanitized to the comfort of any who repeat it.
“Today, people who ally themselves with a hateful and bigoted (Trump) administration will, nonetheless, abuse his message and legacy,” he added. “We cannot condone this willful distortion. Rather, we must take up the very causes he fought for, of equity, justice, and representation.
“Dr. King declared that ‘the moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ We lost Dr. King far too early on that arc, but must remain dedicated to marching along it in the pursuit of justice and equity,” he continued.