Detroit leaders reflect on Martin Luther King's legacy, 50 years after his murder

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Detroit's black leaders reflect on Martin Luther King's legacy, 50 years to day he was murdered

On the 50th anniversary of his murder, Martin Luther King and his legacy was remembered across the country Wednesday.

Looking back to move forward could have been the theme tonight om Detroit at Greater St. Matthew Church - and everywhere else King was remembered.

"He was ahead of his time, some of us believe he was a prophet," said Rev. David Bullock.

Detroit clergy, activists and thought leaders reflected on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King 50 years to the day he was murdered.

"I felt it all through me, I felt like life was almost sucked out of me," said Rev. Horace Sheffield. 
Sheffield was only 13 years old at the time. His father and King were close friends, allies in the quest for Civil Rights and black equality.

A young Sheffield spent time in King's home, memorized his speeches and today is as invested in King's legacy as anyone.

FOX 2: "What would King speak to today in Detroit?"

"Probably the poverty," Sheffield said. "This city has a large concentration of poor people, we have a best of times, worst of times, tale of two cities," Sheffield said. "(A lot) is going on downtown and midtown.  Parts of Detroit are no better than they were. He would be probably trying to equalize investment ... (where) generational residents live as the folks are just coming back."

"Doctor King when he died he was obviously gearing up for a massive assault on poverty," said Bullock. "In Detroit you've got 60 percent concentrated poverty. The poor people's campaign never got off the ground after he was assassinated. I think he would be in Detroit, he would be around the country reminding us that we can't let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. 

Attorney Crystal Crittendon says King's legacy today is about choosing courage over caution.

"Choosing courage over caution requires us to show up show out at every school board meeting, city council meeting, and commission meeting," said Crittendon. "To protest actions taken by our elected officials which are counter to our interests."

The event at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church was just one of many throughout metro Detroit and the nation. Thousands gathered in Memphis outside the National Civil Rights Museum. It is housed in the old Lorraine Motel where King was murdered in 1968.

He was there for the Memphis sanitation workers' strike. King's legacy is now marching orders for a new generation that while closer, has yet to realize the dream he cast for a nation.

"We honor him but we don't try to live like him," Bullock said. "What would America be like if folks lived like Dr. King instead of just listening to his speeches and commemorating his assassination and his birthday." 

Also worth checking out is the book "Where do we go from here - chaos or community?" it is the last book King wrote before he was assassinated. Published in 1967 one year before his murder and a lot of it still relevant today.