Honoring the Legacy of Dr. King on the 50th Anniversary of His Death

On April 4, the Choate community honored the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination, with a live a cappella music performance of "Ella's Song," an anthem in honor of civil rights activist Ella Baker, sung by the Choate Chamber Chorus and video excerpts of two of Dr. King's most memorable speeches. "The Drum Major Instinct," was preached from the pulpit of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in February 1968, two months before Dr. King's death. His sermon urged congregants not to focus on his worldly achievements, but rather he asked to be remembered as one who "tried to give his life serving others." It was in service to others that Dr. King traveled to Memphis in April 1968 in support of the Memphis Sanitation Strike. The evening before his death, he delivered what was to be his last sermon, "I've Been to the Mountaintop" at the Mason Temple. Dr. Keith Hinderlie, Director of Equity and Inclusion, invited the community to reflect on Rev. Ralph Abernathy's remarks at the burial of Dr. King: "We commend his deeds to all mankind, his services and sacrifices to all generations. We commend his legacy of courage and love to ourselves, our children and our children's children."

At 7:01 p.m. (EST), the time of his death, Choate's chapel bells tolled 39 times, once for each year of Dr. King's life. A screening of I Am A Man, the story of the Sanitation Workers' efforts for economic and racial justice in Memphis, followed in the Gelb Theater. Sponsored by the Spiritual Life and Equity & Inclusion Teams, these events kick off a series of programming commemorating and reflecting on the legacies of the leaders and movements of 1968.