(From New York) The bells of the sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception in Washington will toll 39 at 07:05 pm today to commemorate reverend Martin Luther King, killed 50 years ago in Memphis, where he had gone to defend the Afro-American sanitation workers. “39 is the number chosen to commemorate the years lived by doctor King on this earth”, stated the US Bishops Conference, whose tribute wanted to honour King’s legacy and nonviolent resistance to injustice. “This is an opportunity to personally stop and reflect on what we are doing to build the culture of love, respect and peace which the Gospel calls us to – the Bishops went on –, and we cannot help asking ourselves how we are trying to help our brothers and sisters who are still suffering under the burden of racism”. Bells will be tolling for the first time, in tribute to King’s life, at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and at the King Centre in Atlanta. They will be joined at around 06.07 pm by the bells of lots of Catholic schools and churches, and more than those, all over the world, as Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the father of civil rights, has asked for.
The gestures of kindness and service for the community members, proposed by the King Centre of Atlanta to overcome cultural and racial barriers, will be 50, instead, like the anniversary of the murder. Such gestures will be shared on a platform and may inspire many other people to do the same in their own communities. The campaign will end on August 28th, the day King gave the famous “I have a dream” speech in Washington. The website shows several examples that can improve community life: from taking an old man or woman to see a movie and back home to taking garbage off a street, repaint a community centre, do some after-school activity with children or interact with people who come from a different cultural and racial background.
In Memphis, the bishop, Martin D. Holley, will officiate a Mass to commemorate both King and St Martin de Porres, as the latter too worked for harmony between different races and cultures because he too was the son of an ex slave and a Spanish aristocratic man. Mass will be followed by a “Together We March” parade, which will commemorate the deeds and faith of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate winner (King received it at the age of 35), “the foundation of his fight for equality, also inspired by Gandhi’s peaceful disobedience”. The march will end with a moment’s silence and will see bishops and priests who have been involved in the civil rights Movement, lay people, politicians who work for social justice, students and all those who follow M.L. King’s legacy, march through the city’s streets.
On April 9th, another march will start from the ancient Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the place where King used to preach, to encourage the world to keep alive the message of love and humanity inspired by his life. From yesterday to April 9th, ordinary people and celebrities will share videos, in which they will tell about their prospects for the future, “from the mountaintop”, one of King’s pet phrases that he used to encourage Afro-Americans to look ahead and believe in change.