Last week, on the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Duke Professor Omid Safi joined several of King’s associates to remember King’s life and to chart a way forward toward fulfilling his vision.
Safi was invited to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum, and to stand where King last spoke. He delivered the keynote lecture of the commemoration, speaking on “Dr. King’s Message for Today's American and Today's World: What Does Love Have to Say to Us in a Time Like This?”
“We are in Memphis today to ask the question what does love have to say in a broken world like this?” Safi said in his talk. “I’m going to ask that we walk with Martin because we cannot go to where we want to go unless we know where we’ve come from. I’m going to ask that we redeem and resurrect Martin not as the iconic figure … but as one who was of the people and gave his life for the folk. I’m going to ask that we remember we are all in this together.”
Safi noted that on It was on April 4, 1967, King delivered a memorable speech linking anti-black racism here at home to America’s war against Vietnam. This was the speech in which King, already having been declared by the FBI as “the most dangerous Negro leader in America” declared the triplet giants of evils as racism, materialism, and militarism as laying an assault on the soul of America.
A year later, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was in Memphis to stand up for the rights of 1300 sanitation workers who were on strike, seeking to learn a living wage.
Prior to Safi, the audience at Lorraine Motel heard from two of King’s closest living associates of Dr. King, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. James Lawson.
You can watch the video of Professor Safi’s keynote here. [Go to 1:16:00]