Arkansas groups remember MLK's death

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis on April 4, 1968. Since the 53rd anniversary of his death falls on Easter this year, ceremonies will be held virtually with many organizations.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission is having two events to celebrate King's life and remember his death amid the upcoming anniversary of his assassination April 4. 

April 4 marks the 53rd year since King's death in Memphis. 

“They took our dreamer, but they didn’t take our dream," said DeShun Scarbrough, the executive director of the MLK Commission. 

Scarbrough expounded upon the importance of continuing to teach King's message of equality and nonviolent protest today.

“King stood for and fought for so many things from voting rights to social development," Scarbrough said. 

Although the Sebastian County branch of the NAACP does not have any events to remember King's death this year, branch President Olan James agreed that it is important to carry on King's legacy.

The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis will mark the life and death of King, 53 years after his assassination in Memphis, with a special virtual remembrance at 5 p.m. Sunday. The multi-faceted online event titled, "Remembering MLK: The Man. The Movement. The Moment." 

James said this is especially important amid this year's protests following the police killing of George Floyd. 

“This is a continuation of the civil rights movement what we’re seeing right now," James said. He later added, “It’s just moving to another generation." 

“I think this is Dr. King’s dream," James said about all different types of people working together to stamp out oppression. 

He was reminded of one of his favorite King quotes, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Commission held the first of its events virtually at noon Friday, Scarbrough said. The event is called “Passing the Torch" and is aimed at today's youth. The event takes place annually. 

Several young people will speak about King's message, including Jacobi and Kathera Jones who are Floyd's cousins. The goal is to hear from young people, “who are fighting for change today," Scarbrough said. 

Actress Vivica A. Fox will lead the discussion. 

The second event will take place at noon Monday. Called "The Day That King Died," it will be a 30- to 40-minute presentation during which four people will discuss what it was like to hear about King's death and how it changed their lives. 

Fayetteville Superintendent John Colbert; Rev. Marion Humphrey; Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde; and Col. Nate Todd, the secretary of Veterans Affairs will talk about their experiences surrounding King's assassination. 

People can tune in to watch the programs through Facebook at @AMLKC and @ArkansasED, Twitter at @AMLKC and @ArkansasED, and Instagram at @AMLKC and @Arkansas_ED. 

Scarbrough said the commission has had weekly events since Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The events have mostly been virtual. 

“We want to certainly maintain CDC guidelines," Scarbrough said.

People hold up their first while taking a knee during a protest at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington on Friday, June 19, 2020, while marking Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the day in 1865 that enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas, learned they had been freed from bondage, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.