Sharpton reflects on King's death while looking ahead - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

Sharpton reflects on King's death while looking ahead

The Reverend Al Sharpton was just 13 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. King's struggle changed Sharpton's life along with many others throughout this country.

Sharpton brought his nationally broadcast radio program Keeping It Real to Memphis Wednesday for the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination.

"We see this as a benchmark year, and we wanted to be at the landmark where King died," Sharpton said.

Sharpton also picked the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death to hold the National Action Network's conference in Memphis.
"We wanted these days leading up to be planning sessions and workshops on how we plan and what we are going to do the next 40 years. Look at the mistakes we made and what we are going to do right in the last 40 years," Sharpton said.

Friday, there will be a march to the balcony where Dr. King was shot.

Sharpton said he will lead the march along with King's son Martin Luther King, III.

"Friday when we stand there and look and say that man gave his life for us. He didn't give his life for us to be selling dope to each other, he didn't give his life to us to be running around disrespecting each other, and he didn't give his life for us to forget the dream of a society that was fair," Sharpton said.

Sharpton said conference participants will be urged to re-commit themselves to civil rights and to themselves.
"Some have said I'm coming to say I'm going to stop smoking marijuana. Some are saying I'm going to come and re-commit myself to my children's PTA.  This is a day of spiritual cleansing," Sharpton said.

Sharpton said his special guests will include national union leaders, entertainers like actress Cissley Tyson, and hundreds of others who continue to believe in Dr. King's Dream of equality.

The headquarters for the National Action Network conference is the Peabody hotel. However, events like the Shirley Cesar and Timothy Wright concert will take place at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church.

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