MEMPHIS — Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated we spoke with Rev. Jesse Jackson.
He remembers the night of April 4, 1968 as if it were yesterday.
“We sat around talking much of the day. He was kind of ebulent and kind of funny that day,” Rev. Jackson said.
The men would soon split up.
They planned to get back together later than evening for dinner.
The reverend says Dr. King came out of his room to prepare for dinner with Reverend Kyles when the unthinkable happened.
“Dr. King had been shot. I heard someone say get low, and I remember dashing toward the steps,” Rev. Jackson said. “”We were pointing, because police were coming with their guns drawn.”
He says they were pointing so that they could show police the direction in which the bullet came from.
“Mr. Willis, the photographer, scooped up a couple of jars of blood and said, “This was meaningful.” It was eerie,” he said. “Reverend Abernathy said, ‘Get back. Martin didn’t leave us. It’s going to be alright.”
Rev. Jackson says he then called Corretta Scott King and told her, “Mrs. King, Dr. King has been shot.”
“I really couldn’t say what I saw. It was too much to say. I said, ‘I think you should come,” he said.
Rev. Jackson says Dr. King’s death has a lasting affect on his life.
“It fortified my determination to do this the rest of my life, and I have not stopped since that day. It took it to another dimension, because my responsibilities got so great so fast,” he said.
Rev. Jackson says he has no idea where he would be without Dr. King and his influence.”There’s no way of telling where I would be, or where any of us would be. as an 89-year-old man.”
He says he still can’t believe Dr. King is gone.
“He was only 39-years-old. They took away so much so quick.”