A leader sorely missed
Here is an article from the Lansing Labor News archives, dated April 18, 1968. This was shortly after the
assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was written by Local 652 member Grady Porter.
The nation mourns the untimely death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but America is a much better place because he lived. And the principles of love and nonviolence which were a part of his life will live forever.
His great love for people, his belief in equality, justice, brotherhood and dignity for all men gave hope to all men, and especially those who are oppressed.
I was privileged to have known the entire King family very well, having been a close and personal friend of his uncle, Joel L. King, who for eight years was a minister in the Union Baptist Church in Lansing. During this time the Reverends Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. visited Lansing and we became close friends.
During the first mass demonstration in Washington, D.C., I accompanied the Rev. Joel King to the nation’s capital and attended, as a guest, a banquet given by the India delegation honoring Dr. King.
Yours truly was deeply honored, as well as grieved, to have been invited to join the bereaved family at the funeral. I also expressed the personal condolences of my local union, Local 652 UAW.
Labor also lost a great friend and leader. Dr. King had addressed many of the UAW National Conventions, and every Civil Rights Conference held by the UAW. When the assassin’s bullet struck, he was [trying to help] organize the sanitary workers of Memphis, Tennessee.
Never before in the history of a nation were so many people, great and small, important and insignificant, affected and stunned by the death of a single man.
I stood at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963 and heard this man with a golden voice proclaim, “I have a dream.” In this dream he envisioned a world, especially an America, where love, justice, brotherhood and dignity for all men would reign.
In Atlanta, Georgia a week ago,
I saw a part of his dream come true.
I saw white and black weep together.
I saw white and black holding hands and marching together. I saw whites comforting and wiping the tears of black faces, and I saw black people comforting and wiping tears of sorrow from white faces.
I saw 250,000 people in solemn respect to a man who had given his life for the cause of love and freedom. Greater love hath no man than this when he will give up his life for a friend.
Christ preached love, turn the other cheek, patience, brotherhood, and justice for all—and they killed Him also.
His death made this world a better place to live.
Editor’s Note: Grady Porter, in addition to being a Local 652 member, was a veteran of the European campaign in World War II. However, he is best known for being an Ingham County Commissioner for 24 years. In 1992 the Ingham County building at 313 W. Kalamazoo Street in Lansing was named the Grady J. Porter Building. Perhaps more UAW members will take his example and run for office–and be elected.