Posted by: morgan1965 | April 4, 2009

I Remember April 4, 1968

I remember the Thursday when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as though it were yesterday.

Whenever possible, it was customary for me to watch the evening news along with fellow seminarians. We would gather to watch the news in the TV lounge of Hoyt-Bowne Hall, a residence hall for single males at Drew University.

On the night of April 4, 1968, we were watching the news with Walter Cronkite reporting. Cronkite interrupted his broadcast to announce that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot in Memphis, Tennessee. He ended the broadcast with the horrible news that Martin King was dead, struck down by an assassin’s bullet.

King was shot at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968. We later learned that he had been booked in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. He was standing on the motel’s second floor balcony, just outside of his room.

M.L. King was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. The King was dead; but, the dreamer’s dream lived on into the future.

When I heard the news about the shooting of King and his subsequent death, I was in total shock. To be frank, I was numb. I could hardly believe my ears. There was silence in the room. The only sound was the sound of the television.

It was my senior year at Drew, and I was looking forward to graduation in May.

I scrapped my planned sermon for the following Sunday. I preached from my heart and soul that Sunday. I was tinged with a variety of feelings – anger, disappointment, discouragement and cynicism. But, the Holy Spirit used me to bring a message of hope to my congregation at St. Mary Street United Methodist Church in Burlington, N.J.

The assassination sparked a nationwide wave of riots in more than 100 U.S. cities. Flames of retaliation and frustration flared across the land.

King had dedicated his life to servant leadership. He lost his life on behalf of the sanitation workers in Memphis. He sought to bring them hope for a better future.

The challenge today, remains the same – offering hope to the hopeless.



  1. Martin Luther King was born in January, 1929. I was born the following April. He would have been 80 this past January, as I will be in April. I was pastor of First UMC Pittsburgh when he died. Both of us were 39 years old that year. When I think of him, which is often, I sometimes reflect on the experiences I have had since 1968; experiences denied him by his martyrdom; such experiences as the birth and growth of our grandchildren.

  2. Bishop, thank you for your special memories! Deeply moving! You express such hope for all of us.

  3. I first became as member of Houston Methodist Church in Kimball, West Virginia, when Rev Charles Thompson was pastor. Another pastor at the church was Rev. L. E. Crowson. I can remember doing the Sunday church bulletin for him when we used a mimeograph. He was a very outspoken minister and we got along very well. I was married to a wonderful man who was a Christian and we belonged to the First (United) Mehodist Church in Welch, West Virginia. Rev. Claude Clollins bapized our first daughter, Carla Sue. My husband attended Emory and
    Henry Collegefor one year and then received an appointment to West Point. Claude and Libby Collins attended Emory and Henry College at the same time my husand atteded. My husband’s family lives in Roanoke, Virginia, and I was given his Bible he had at Emory and Henry. It means so much to me to have it because he underlined certain verses in the Bible in red. My husband did not like the regimentation at West Point and he went home and worked for the State Road Commision and later became an accountant or office manager at one of their mines. He was transferred to a little town halfway between Johnstown and Altoona, Pennysylvania, by the name of Portage. There were no Methodist Churches there so we joined the Evangelical United Church. Rev. John Woomer was our minister and our second daughter, Jo Ellen was dedicated there. My husband was transferred to Pittsburgh and we became members of Baldwin Community Methodist Church and both Carla Sue and Jo Ellen became members of the Baldwin Church and were presented Bibles at that time. Dr. John Warman was senior minister, along with Roger Rulong and Mahlon Hurtbert, Jr. Dr. John Warman later became Bishop of the Harrisburg District. Dr.Warman’s secretary became ill and I was lucky to be able to work at the church for Dr. Warman until she returned to work. Helen Dodds was her name and she was, also, the church organist. Again, my husband was transferred to Barrett, West Viginia, in Boone County. We joined the little Methodist Church there and the minister who was there just recently died. I cannot remember his name but on one World Communion Sunday he cancelled the Communion and we transferred our membership to Madison United Methodist Church; Rev.Maynard Crawford was the minister at that time.My dear husband, Carlo, died in 1978 and I later moved to Salem, Virginia, where I was a member there until I moved and became a member of Cross Lanes United Methodist Church in October. 1990; Rev. Gene Adkins was the pastor when I became a member of CLUMC. I have loved each church I have attended and I will be 85 years young in the coming month of June.

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