April 4 - America's History Lesson

3/27/2013, 8:14 p.m.

On April 4, 1968, while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a gunman fired a fatal shot with a rifle that ended King's life and what some believed would also end the non-violent movement for civil rights in the U.S.

Today, with the median age of males in the United States at 35.8 years old and females at 38.5, it's safe to say that more than half of the current population wasn't even born when King was assassinated, nor did they witness the reaction or experience the immediate impact of his death in America or across the globe. What they do in fact know, is that King is an icon, and that gun violence continues to wreak havoc in America. They know that the tragic murder of men, women and children due to the widespread access and use of guns and other more deadly semi-automatic weapons remains a prevalent issue in this country.

Thursday, April 4, will mark the 45th anniversary of King's assassination. It's a moment to reflect upon the work King was preparing for at the time of his death. He and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were preparing to hold a Poor People's March in the nation's capital. King had moved from the fight for civil rights to a struggle for "silver rights" and economic justice for poor people in America.

The Poor People's Campaign had already begun, by May 12, 1968, thousands of poor people from cities in both the North and South converged upon the National Mall and set up a shantytown called, "Resurrection City." They were there to tell America's leaders that the country's poor had grown weary of asking and now "demanded meaningful jobs at a living wage; [and] a secure and adequate income for all those unable to find jobs [along with] access to land for economic uses; [and] access to capital for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses; and the ability for ordinary people to play a truly significant role in the government."

King's death didn't stop the Poor People's March from occurring. And, the march didn't eliminate the disparities that exist between the nation's rich and its poor, which is expanding daily. The generation of American's born after King's death, are experiencing first-hand the issues King fought so vehemently against. What a perfect history lesson for them on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.