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Honor King on the 40th anniversary of his


A check of the hospitals in any Negro community on any Saturday  night will make you painfully aware of the violence within the Negro  community. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Forty years ago on  April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis,  Tennessee.  There is a chilling parallel in his assassination and the  recent murder of Jamiel Shaw and the near killing of Lavarea Elzy. They,  as Dr. King, are innocents. The victims in the recent spike in the  mostly black on black and Latino on Latino murder violence in Los  Angeles has stirred hand wringing, head scratching and finger pointing  among LAPD officials, local elected officials and community residents in  a desperate effort to get a handle on the violence.
But whether it  was the assassins bullet that claimed the life of one of historys most  prominent and beloved fighters for peace and justice, or an innocent  such as Shaw its still painful, heart wrenching and screams for an  answer. The King led civil rights movement provided two answers to the  violence plague. The first was Kings fight for racial justice and  economic uplift. That meant far more than simply integrating a lunch  counter or drinking out of a whites only fountain. It meant ending the  disparities in the criminal justice system, a full court attack on  failing public schools, providing affordable health care and housing for  all, decent jobs at decent pay especially for young black males that  face near Great Depression chronic levels of unemployment, and  comprehensive family support programs to prevent family break-up.  Economic and racial equality are essential to boosting self-esteem,  self-worth, and community caring values among young African-Americans  and other minority youth. That would be a giant step toward cutting down  the carnage that has plagued many poor black and Latino urban  neighborhoods.
Even before James Earl Rays bullet tore through  Kings neck, he had denounced the attacks against stores, shops and  police by young blacks following a march by striking Memphis sanitation  workers. Kings horror of violence by blacks or whites was never far  from his mind. But he knew that simply calling for an end to the  violence was an empty gesture if he and other civil rights leaders   werent willing to lead by example and make nonviolence the heart of  their philosophy, practice and preachment, and if need be sacrifice  their lives rather than resort to violence.
Kings second answer to  ending the carnage in Los Angeles and other urban neighborhoods was to  instill in young blacks a reverence for life. He and other civil rights  leaders understood that a big reason it was so easy for blacks to  slaughter each other with impunity was that their lives were devalued by  the killers and by larger society. This indifference to life created an  internal hostile climate that was fueled by the endemic high  unemployment and poor education among many poor black and Latino youth.
Though  black-on black murder did not top the murder charts in some big cities  during the heyday of the 1960s civil rights movement, the seeds of the  violence were there. The seed remained the economic and social neglect  and destitution of the inner cities. King did not explicitly call for a  moratorium on urban killings during his lifetime. The issue for the  civil rights leaders then was still the fight to end the vestiges of Jim  Crow discrimination and the developing battle against poverty.
The  assassins bullet that felled King sent the horrible and grotesque  message that if violence could claim a King, it could claim anyones  life. The only thing that could stop it was a deep, intense, and  sustained commitment by society to work toward peace and social justice  and by African-Americans to fully repair and restore pride and devotion  to family and community.
Forty years after the murder of one of the  worlds leading martyrs for peace and justice, what better way to pay  tribute to his sacrifice than with a 40 Hour King Assassination  Moratorium on Killing. A community, South L.A., and a city, Los Angeles,  that can start and end 40 hours with not a single recorded murder is a  community and a city that has shown that forty years later it can still  embrace the message of peace and nonviolence that King preached and that  ultimately cost him his life. Its a small gesture time wise, but a  monumental feat human life wise.
The Los Angeles Urban Policy  Roundtable, civil rights leaders, and family members of victims of  violence call for a 40 Hour King Assassination Moratorium on Killing. It  begins at 6.01 p.m., Friday, April 4, the exact time and date King was  killed 40 years ago. It ends at 10.01 a.m.,  Sunday.
– The Los  Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable also will host a 40th Anniversary King  Assassination Dialogue on Violence Roundtable on Saturday, April 5.  Community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement are invited to  dialogue on specific initiatives that the community can implement to  reduce murder violence.