MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - "I'm 71. I was 21 in 1968."
Reverend Dr. L. LaSimba Gray remembers marching with Dr. King.
"He was the man. At that time, I was not a minister. I was a college senior at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee and I was driving back and forth to Memphis," said Dr.Gray.
Clayborn Temple was the place strikers assembled before their marches, and Gray remembers preachers like his own pastor Benjamin Hooks, Jesse Epps and H. Ralph Jackson firing up the crowd.
"These were my heroes. So I was like a kid absorbing all of this," he said. "There's nothing in a university, no academic program could've impacted my life the way the meetings, the marching and the strategizing impacted my life in this building."
"After the meetings were over and the orientation had taken place, new would then pour out of these doors and into the street. I thought we were defeating bigotry, racism, that kind of thing but I discovered Jim Crow has grandchildren," said Dr. Gray.
After a half-century fighting for civil rights, Dr. Gray just retired as pastor of New Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown. He has hopes the new I AM A MAN Plaza to be installed next to Clayborn Temple will be a path toward Dr. King's dream.
"He died working for the beloved community where racism didn't exist, bigotry didn't exist violence and racial slurs didn't exist and so I hope we can use this as a process to build," said Dr. Gray.