A view of the historic 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama
A view of the historic 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama

NewFM members woke up early Monday morning to join a South Florida delegation headed for massive rally planned in Memphis, Tennessee to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

For Emmanuel George, Steven Jones and Carlos Naranjo, the trip has been an opportunity for reflection and brotherhood.

A plaque expaining the Septenber 1963 church bombing that killed 4 little girls in Birmingham, Alabama.
A plaque expaining the Septenber 1963 church bombing that killed 4 little girls in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I have enjoyed this trip a lot, specially the opportunities to connect with others here that want to fight against similar issues back in south Florida,” said Jones. “The lessons that we see here are a powerful reminder that despite the obstacles we should always know the many ways people fought back and achieved victories.”

Before stopping into Memphis on Tuesday evening, the group pulled into Birmingham, Alabama. There they visited two famed Civil Rights history landmarks – the 16th Street Baptist Church where the KKK bombing killed four little 4 girls in September of 1963 and the city jail where Dr. King wrote the Letter from Birmingham jail.

Seeing those sites were sobering, said Naranjo. Yet just as powerful was watching the story of lesser known leaders in civil rights documentaries on the bus  then driving through the very places depicted in them.

“Being on the bus, going through the South, and visiting these historic sites, like the 16th Street Baptist Church, where white terrorism from the KKK dynamited the church killing those 4 girls, and the towering figures that kept on just reaffirms our covenant with the struggle to dismantle all systems of oppression,” said Naranjo. “It all is a spirit and a fire that will not give out.”

A plaque just outside the old Birmingham jail where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous letter explaining non-violent civil disobedience
A plaque just outside the old Birmingham jail where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous letter explaining non-violent civil disobedience

“This trip has been great and a way to be reacquainted first hand with the horrors in the history of this country,” reflected George. “For myself, I always like to bring this back to our communities. All these struggles against racist hate remind me of things in Dania where I do community work. It reminds me of how in the middle of the past century a cemetery in Dania that was not segregated, had all the bodies of black individuals dug up and sent west of Dixie Highway, so that segregation ruled, even in cemeteries. All this was done without letting the families know.”

Added Emmanuel, “It’s always important to remember that these issues affect all of our communities.”