Column: My remembrance of Dr. King

Horace Sheffield

While I did not remember the year, I recall that one of the first televised interviews I watched of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was on “Face the Nation,” when I was a teenager, living on Van Dyke between Warren and Gratiot on the east side.

And the thing that stood out in that particular interview was a young and relatively unknown Dan Rather, clearly trying to put Dr. King on the defensive, asking him about communist infiltration of the civil rights movement, by invoking the name and claims of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

I will never forget King’s response.

Without blinking, King told Rather that the nation should consider it amazing and itself fortunate that, given the nature of discrimination, oppression and racism in America, more negroes had not joined the Communist Party.

After receiving King’s famous “How Long” speech from Dale Rich and Ruben Wilson, with King’s birthday coming up, I decided to see if I could find King’s “Face the Nation” appearance on YouTube, and much to my surprise, there it was. Such is the power and beauty of YouTube.

And believe it or not, when I originally watched King’s May 10, 1964, interview, mainly by Rather and Ben Bradlee, who was then a journalist for Newsweek magazine, I was a 13-year-old seventh-grader at the Detroit Public School’s Barbour Junior High School, in Homeroom 220, led by my teacher, Jean Johnson.

In rewatching these expositions of exquisite intellect, personal commitment, courage, leadership, political and strategic analysis, and even political prophecy not seen in modern American history, King’s legacy lives on.

The Rev. Horace Sheffield III leads the Detroit Association of Black Organizations.