Liberty Bowl brings historic civil rights family back to Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Liberty Bowl brings historic civil rights family back to Memphis

(WMC-TV) - Ralph David Abernathy is an historic name in the history of Civil Rights.  Friday, three generations of Abernathys were in Memphis looking back and forward on their family legacy.

"I understood at a young age that we were working hard for integration, which is what we have today," said Ralph David Abernathy, III.

Ralph David Abernathy, III was 7 years old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.  His father, Ralph David Abernathy, Sr. is the man holding King in the famous photo on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

"What happened that day, you know, changed the whole course of history in America," said Ralph David Abernathy, III.

Friday, the family toured the National Civil Rights Museum.  The visit was one some of them had avoided for most of their lives.

"I've never returned to Memphis," said Juandalynn Abernathy.  "I've never really liked this town because of what transpired."

The focus of this trip to Memphis was football.  Ralph David Abernathy, IV will play in the Liberty Bowl Saturday.  When the freshman standout with the Cincinnati Bearcats takes the field, more than a dozen of his family members will be in the crowd.

"As a proud mom, I've seen him grow and seen him matriculate into a fine young man both on and off the field," said Annette Abernathy.

Even though he is just 19 years old, Ralph David Abernathy, IV said he recognizes the significance of his presence in Memphis.

"Being able to come here in Memphis, my family coming in, being able to play in the Liberty Bowl," he said.  "It's really just a blessing."

He is the starting kick returner for the Cincinnati Bearcats.  The Autozone Liberty Bowl kicks off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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