“I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it.” That was Fort Wayne resident Dee McKinley’s reaction upon learning Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th, 1968.
On that day 50 years ago.the gospel radio host was a 17 year old. She was traveling with her school’s choir to Montgomery, Alabama. “While we were getting ready to set up for the concert with voice checks and mic checks and all of that, someone came and told our choir director that Dr. King had been assassinated. Needless to say there was no concert. We all just lost it because the majority of us in the choir had marched with Dr. King and had been part of the Birmingham civil rights movement.”
WANE-TV news director Ted Linn also remembers getting the news. He was delivering it on his paper route when he was 13. “I delivered newspapers and I remember picking up that newspaper the Indianapolis Star to tell everyone that Dr. King had been assassinated,” said Linn. “Before I even went out to deliver any of those papers, I woke my parents up to let them know. That’s how they found out about the assassination of Dr. King.”
Now 50 years after Dr. King’s assassination his legacy endures and monuments stand tall in his memory, like Fort Wayne’s MLK Bridge. A crowd gathered at the bridge April 4th to commemorate his life.
A King tribute will also be held at Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre. Two civil rights icons will share their memories of Dr. King during a program entitled “Let’s Go Back To The Mountain Top.” Local Pastor Bill McGill is the organizer. “There are only five freedom riders still alive in our country that started this wave of integration across the south,” said McGill. “Two of those individuals, Dr. C.T. Vivian and Miss Diane Nash will be seated together on the Embassy stage. We’re also going to have a couple fo young people from Homestead and Carroll High Schools who have been involved in this youth movement of awareness. They’re going to be speaking briefly as well. So it will be a linking of those two generations together.”
“Let’s Go Back to The Mountaintop, 50 Years Later” will take place Tuesday, April 10th from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Embassy Theatre. Admission is free but tickets are required and they are still available. You can get them at the Embassy Theatre box office.
Later this month, WANE-TV will air a half hour special on Dr. King. It’s called “Dr. Martin Luther King – Remembering The Dream.” You’ll get an extensive look at how Dr. King’s life impacted the nation, and I’ll talk with a Fort Wayne woman who was arrested while marching with Dr. King. “Remembering The Dream” airs Saturday, April 28th at 2:30 p.m. here on WANE-TV.