Martin Luther King Jr. prophesied his own death, according to his longtime friend Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney.
"I remember Dr. King making a statement that he knew he was going to be assassinated, and we asked him, 'How can you be so sure?' And he said well, he had reached the point of no return," McKinney says in a Fox affiliate interview.
"Dr. King pointed out it didn't matter where you live, you could not escape what was going on," McKinney says. "We needed to hear that message that he had. He was a living experience of what had taken place."
McKinney, a Seattle pastor who eventually brought King to the Pacific Northwest, says the two activists initially met because both their fathers were pastors.
"There are certain calls in your life that you cannot reject or ignore," McKinney says. "There's a price to pay, but you go on and pay it. You can ask the Lord to give you the strength to make it, and He did."
The day before his death, King eerily spoke about what was ahead for him in his "I Have Been to the Mountaintop" speech:
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And 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. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Then, on April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray shot and killed King just after 6 p.m. on the balcony of a Memphis hotel. King was 39.
Though 50 years have passed since King's assassination, his legacy continues to inspire generations across the nation.
"Yet his death was not in vain. Other courageous souls have carried the torch and it's important to celebrate how far we've come since that awful day 50 years ago. Many of the humiliating injustices that burdened African-Americans in King's time have thankfully been lifted. That being said, I'm under no illusion that his mission is complete. Our nation, and the rest of the world for that matter, has a long ways to go in combating racism in our schools, our neighborhoods, and even our places of worship," says Jentezen Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr. Mantle of Destiny Award recipient.
"Over the years, I've been horrified to witness some of our nation's most embarrassing moments of racial prejudice, even just this past summer in Charlottesville. I want to call on the church, my own and every church in every town across America, to continue to speak up and fight this immorality with the wide-reaching love of Christ. As followers of Jesus we know the truth, that red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in his sight. And so my prayer is that whenever a moment of racial injustice arises, the church will stand at the front lines to fulfill Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream to drive out the darkness that plagues us," Franklin says.
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