SARANAC LAKE - Forty-six years ago today, on the evening of April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a bullet fired by assassin James Earl Ray. King was 39 years old.
This Sunday, at 3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Saranac Lake, people from the Tri-Lakes will celebrate King's life and pledge to continue his fight for economic justice. The Saranac Lake Ecumenical Council, local clergy and others who share King's dream are sponsoring the event.
There will be an eyewitness testimony, readings of excerpts from King's writings, and communal singing of music from the Civil Rights Movement.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Attendees will also listen to King's words on economic justice from his speech "The Other America." It is well known that King worked to end racial discrimination, but he also had much to say about economic justice, regardless of skin color, stating, "It's all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself up by his own boot strings."
A local resident who worked with the United Farm Workers alongside Cesar Chavez during the earliest days of the farmworkers movement from 1975 to 1979 will share testimony about his experience. He worked in Boston, Toronto and the Bay Area, at UFW headquarters in Keene, Calif., and in the border town of Calexico.
Attendees at Sunday's event will also be invited to sing songs that Pete Seeger wrote or sang. Seeger, who recently died at age 94, used music to fight for social justice and helped bring to the Civil Rights Movement an adapted version of the gospel song "We Shall Overcome."
A free-will donation will be accepted to support Samaritan House, the Saranac Lake Ecumenical Council's homeless shelter initiative. Afterward, refreshments will be served in the church's Great Hall.