40 Years Ago Today: The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [VIDEO]

Unfortunately this will be a year of often tragic anniversaries. The election of Richard Nixon to his first term in office. The brutal police riots at the Chicago Democratic convention. And worst of all, the assassinations of two of the brightest lights in the history of the American progressive movement: Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I wrote a piece earlier this year about what Dr. King has meant to me over the years as a young African American who didn't have the privilege to witness his struggle firsthand but was the beneficiary of its results throughout my life. My parents were not so lucky. My father, in particular, grew up in rural Georgia and told me the stories of the separate accommodations for blacks and whites that he had to endure. He marched with King and has much more visceral memories of the man than I can ever have and I envy that. I could only watch speeches on a TV or computer screen. But what speeches they were! I was moved to tears just this morning assembling the video to your right.

It's classic footage from the groundbreaking 1980s documentary series Eyes on the Prize, which every American should be required to see. This footage covers his iconic final speech, his murder and finally his touching funeral. Who knows what trajectory our politics and our nation might have had, should he have lived to see 40, 50, 60 or 70. All I know if that we all need to start really listening to this man's words, because we need them now more than ever.

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