Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis, Tennessee to support the striking sanitation workers. At Mason Temple, he gave the most poignant speech of his life, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” where he predicted his own death:
“I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go 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.”
The following day, on April 4, 1968 at 6:05 pm, King was shot dead while standing on the balcony outside his second floor room at the Lorraine Motel. The news of King’s assassination caused major outbreaks of racial violence and an international manhunt for the suspected felon. During the years that followed, many questions arose about possible co-conspirators, questionable evidence, and the pervasive surveillance by the FBI. King’s family unanimously believed that the charged assailant was innocent.
Marlena tells of a conversation particularly related to this painting:
"I found it very interesting when I showed the painting to a US Veteran. He thoughtfully asked me if I had intended to paint the American flag upside down. I had. He informed me that in combat, a company would raise their flag upside down when all hope is lost and they are desperate to be saved. I thought the symbolism was very appropriate, even if you believe that America conspired to kill him."
Background re: MLK, Jr.
The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, and the most recognized leader of the American Civil Rights Movement until his assassination on April 4, 1968. Throughout his adult life he championed non violent resistance and civil disobedience as means of protest toward Civil Rights abuses, primarily toward African American Citizens. His influence using these techniques carried over to poverty, segregated housing, and Vietnam war issues, and resulted in him being arrested multiple times. He was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (SCLC) organizing it, unsuccessfully, in a struggle against segregation in 1962 in Albany, GA. He helped organize the nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which King interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.
King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.