Pictured here with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is my personal hero Ambassador Andrew Young, amongst other aides to Dr. King at the time, on this eventful day and final trip.
As I traveled in and out of Memphis, Tennessee, focused on and around our work to empower the underserved in our nation with financial and economic choice — something we at Operation HOPE call ‘silver rights’ — I am always reminded of something as I taxi into the Memphis airport.
This was Dr. King’s last plane flight, anywhere. His last arrival. His last airport destination. He traveled into Memphis, but he never left.
When he returned from his campaign for civil rights and economic justice in Memphis, Tennessee, sadly he returned back to Atlanta in a casket.
This has always deeply saddened me, each and every time I have landed and exited the airplane in Memphis. Was this the arrivals flight ramp, where Dr. King departed for the last time, I would ask myself?
But something else, saddened me even more. There was absolutely no mention of this sad and unfortunate historical marker anywhere in the Memphis airport. And so, I made it my business to share this unfortunate oversight during every speech I gave before leaders in Memphis. Lucky for me, one leader paid attention. Bryan Jordan, CEO of First Horizon and First Tennessee Bank, whom we partner with around our HOPE Inside model throughout the state of Tennessee. Before I knew it, there was action and positive movement.
And so, while it is not totally done and complete yet, there is every indication that the authorities with jurisdiction here will very soon post a proper historical marker, in honor of Dr. King’s final trip to Memphis.
Of course, this is even more meaningful to me, personally, as our work at Operation HOPE seeks to humbly continue some of the economic agenda work of Dr. King and his Poor People’s Campaign. Keep you posted.
Onward, and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant