On the 49th anniversary of Dr. King’s last flight, Operation HOPE has worked with the leadership of First Tennessee Bank and the City of Memphis, and Memphis Airport Authority to inspire the installation of a historic marker publicly acknowledging Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Final Flight’ into Memphis, TN on April 3rd, 1968.

On April 3rd, 1968,  HOPE Global Spokesman and my mentor and friend Andrew Young accompanied his friend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on what was to be the final flight of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to Memphis, Tennessee.   Dr. King, Young and the other members of Dr. King’s team were in Memphis to support the Memphis sanitation workers and King’s newest initiative of 1968 — The Poor People’s Campaign.

On the evening of April 3rd, 1968, Dr. King gave his historic ‘I Have Been To The Mountaintop’ speech at Mason Temple, where Dr. King seem to collapse in his chair, in emotional exhaustion at its conclusion.  On the next day, April 4th, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  That’s Andrew Young, on the balcony, calling forth the direction of the final assassin’s fatal bullet immediately in the aftermath of the tragedy on this fateful day. 

Dr. King and his team flew into Memphis, TN on this fateful day, but he never boarded another flight. He never flew out of Memphis.  

I have thought about this every time that I have flown into Memphis Airport — wondering which gate Dr. King arrived into.   It has made me emotional on each and every occasion that I have come into the city — knowing that King gave our life so that we may all have life.

As of tomorrow, these questions will be answered, and Dr. King’s Final Flight will be publicly and formally acknowledged in a prominent place at the Memphis Airport for history’s sake.  Andrew Young, now formally recognized worldwide as Ambassador Andrew Young (our nation’s first African-American United Nations Ambassador), and I have traveled into Memphis to join City and Airport officials, along with civil and business leaders for a formal unveiling ceremony on Monday morning, April 3rd, 1968, on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of Dr. King’s Final Flight.

Following the morning ceremony Ambassador Young and I will visit the HOPE Inside, Macon Temple location powered by First Tennessee Bank, the location of Dr. King’s final speech.  From there we will meet with HOPE Clients at the HOPE Inside at SunTrust Bank.  Later in the week the Andrew Young Presents documentary team will meet with clients at our HOPE Inside location in Senatobia, Mississippi. All of this is part of a new documentary entitled “Dr. King’s Final Flight: Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community. From Civil Rights to Silver Rights.”  

All of this tied to and leading up to our HOPE Global Forum Annual Meeting for 2017, on April 10-12th, 2017, in Atlanta, Ga.

Stay tuned for more to come. Let’s go…

John Hope Bryant

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