For Release: April 4, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11
or [email protected]
Black Activists Speak Out on King Assassination Anniversary and a Re-Commitment to Black Empowerment
Washington, D.C. - Today the world commemorates the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
On April 4, 1968, Dr. King's storied civil rights career was cut short by an assassin's bullet at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. While Dr. King's legacy lives on and is still strong today, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are asking people in the black community to use this solemn anniversary to reignite a commitment to self-empowerment and shedding reliance on government.
To follow are quotes from individual Project 21 members - including a former regional official of Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference - on the King assassination anniversary and the task of promoting personal progress:
Joe R. Hicks (Los Angeles, CA) - "Perhaps the biggest disservice to the memory of Dr. King is the attempt to characterize him solely as a black leader. While much of his work did concentrate on the discrimination that faced that era's black Americans, his vision transcended narrow racial categorization. He viewed the civil rights struggles as crucial efforts aimed at making the nation live up to its lofty Constitutional ambitions, and were aimed at building a better nation for all Americans regardless of skin color, religion or national origin." (Hicks is a former executive director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference - the civil rights organization founded by Dr. King.)
Bishop Council Nedd II (Harrisburg, PA) - "The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't simply cut short the life of one of mankind's great leaders. It also served as an excuse by some to divert the civil rights movement from King's vision of nonviolent protest and reconciliation to one of racial entitlement and resentment. Dr. King's greatness was manifested not only in his commitment to combating racial bigotry, but in his determination to stand up to the radicals in the civil rights movement who sought to effect change through violence, hatred and even revolution. The real tragedy is not only that a great man was struck down by an assassin's bullet, but that there are those who claim to be following in his footsteps who have so completely lost their way."
Deneen Borelli (New York, NY) - "Our country could use more leaders like Dr. King to teach and reinforce his message of hope, love and equality to change the hearts and minds of those continuously exposed to words of hopelessness, hatred and racism. Our children would certainly benefit from the positive messages Dr. King spoke of 40 years ago for a better tomorrow."
B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. (Honolulu, HI) - "No question about it, Dr. King was one of the most important black American leaders of his time. However, the rush of the civil rights movement and his untimely death hindered the development of optimal strategies and long-term plans for black Americans. Consequently, black Americans continue to falter from the absence and implementation of such strategies and plans today."
Mychal Massie (Philadelphia, PA) - "Dr. King's assassination, along with those of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy, marked a volatile period in America's history. It would be prudent if we advocated the implementation of the best of what these great men stood for, juxtaposed to reinventing the truth of the greatness to fit the self-serving machinations of race hustlers of today. Dr. King's vision has also been blunted by the misguided efforts of the Great Society Initiatives, which led to a decline of the family structure - the black family structure in particular." (Massie is the chairman of Project 21.)