SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Americans everywhere took the time to remember the life and legacy of civil rights icon Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of his assasination. A Salt Lake City Pastor who marched alongside Dr. King reflected on the activist’s life during a sit-down interview with News4Utah.
Pastor France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church says he was in South Asia, in the Vietnam War, when he heard that Dr. King had been assassinated. He told News4Utah’s Brittany Johnson that the death of the man who inspired him to live a life of activism still hurts.
“I’m still rather sad about the death of a 39-year-old leader of the world in terms of human rights and civil disobedience with a non-violence approach. I’m sad about the loss of that life,” said Davis.
Pastor Davis was in high school when Dr. King delivered his famous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. He said he knew then that he would become a life-long activist. Davis said it was easy to follow in King’s footsteps because of the way he fought for others, and because he was a man of faith.
“He didn’t have to ride in the back of the bus because his parents had a car. He didn’t have to worry about going to segregated schools. Everything he did was about other people. That was driven by his faith, as is what I do, driven by my faith,” Davis said.
The day before Rev. King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN., he delivered a speech in which he famously said, “I’ve been to the mountain top.” … “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the promised land.”
Pastor Davis says we have come a long way since Dr. King delivered that speech, but “we still have a lot of work to do.”
“Many of us thought that vision was realized with the election of Mr. Obama as the president of the United States. Unfortunately, it brought out some of the hidden problems that still existed.”
Davis believes that the problems facing America aren’t just about race, but about human rights.
“The issues today with gun violence that the students are pursuing, the issues that the teachers are requesting that they be paid in a more equitable way, the issues within our own community; how we’re going to deal with the movement of the prison and the re-shaping of our economy — making sure that educational opportunities are available to everybody,” Davis explained. “We’re all in the boat together and unless we all work together, we’ll never have the positive change that we need.”
“Do you think there’s anyone alive today or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stature?” News4Utah’s Brittany Johnson asked Pastor France Davis.
“We have nobody, I believe, of Dr. King’s stature today,” Davis replied.
He went on to say, “I think that’s good by the way. I think that if we had continued with just one person leading the movement, it would have been easy to get them out of the way, as we did by the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King. It’s harder to stop a whole community that’s coming together.”
Although Davis says when Dr. King was alive we “missed the mark” when it came to what he stood for, he believes that King’s death reminded each of us that “non-violence and civil disobedience, is the best approach to solving human problems”.
Pastor Davis will be giving a speech Thursday at 4:00 p.m. On the campus of Brigham Young University where he will commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.