My life and involvement began with Martin King in 1957 and lasted until his death on April 4, 1968 when on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis Tennessee his journey was ended by an assassin’s bullet.
As a seminarian studying at the School of Theology at Virginia Union University, now the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology, Martin, and his cohorts, Wyatt T. Walker, Andy Young, Walt Fauntleroy, Ralph Abernathy and my roommate Charles Sherrod met regularly in what we called at that time the BD Dorm to plan and strategize against the discrimination and oppression of segregation in the south. Martin was an incredible visionary and Ralph was an incredible strategist. The expertise of Wyatt and Andy helped to develop systems of nonviolent reactions to segregation, separate but equal, and discriminatory practices throughout the south.
When I graduated from Seminary and returned to Los Angeles my home, to be the Associate Pastor of the Victory Baptist Church of Los Angeles, connections were still in place with the team in the South. Victory bought a brand new Buick car and gave it to Ralph Abernathy when his car was destroyed in Montgomery Alabama. Martin came many times to Victory and other Los Angeles churches to raise money for the efforts of SCLC.
When the March on Washington occurred the plans for that experience were develop between the head quarters of SCLC in Atlanta, the campus of Virginia Union and representatives of the Unions in Washington D.C. I was privileged to be among those who were present at the March on Washington and recently the Inauguration of the First African American President of the most powerful country in the world President Barak H. Obama.
As I remember my time with the King, I am reminded of the following that I believe formed me into who I am today. From Martin and those who associated with him I learned the following: patience, love, integrity/honesty, stop rapping, start mapping, good followers make good leaders, trust and prayer which leads to change by non-violent means. This is the legacy that I personally claim from my years of association with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Had Martin lived he would be 81 years old on January 15th.
I remain friends with Andy Young, Walter Faunteroy, Wyatt T. Walker, John Lewis and Charles Sherrod all of whom have made tremendous contributions to the human agenda.
God bless the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 to April 4, 1968)
Dr. Paul M. Martin
American Baptist Seminary of the West