Petersen: King wanted people to remember him as someone trying to make the world a better place

In this Aug. 28, 1963 photo, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, gestures during his "I Have a Dream" speech as he addresses thousands of civil rights supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. Months before the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington in 1963, he fine-tuned his civil rights message before a much smaller audience in North Carolina. Reporters had covered King’s 55-minute speech at a high school gymnasium in Rocky Mount on Nov. 27, 1962, but a recording wasn’t known to exist until English professor Jason Miller found an aging reel-to-reel tape in the town’s public library. (AP Photo)

LOGAN – Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day to honor the late civil rights leader who was assassinated 50 years ago at the age of 39.

Dr. Ross Petersen, author and retired history professor at Utah State University, says Dr. King was a clergyman, an activist and prominent leader in the civil rights movement who loved everyone he met.

“I think that is in his legacy,” Dr. Petersen says. “A couple weeks before he was assassinated he gave a sermon about what he wanted said at his funeral.

“He said not to mention that he received a Nobel Prize, or not to mention that he received honorary degrees, but just mention that he tried to help people in need, tried to make the world a better place and get people to be more kind and decent toward other people.”

Petersen says this is the 89th year since Dr. King’s birth but he still has a strong influence for good on many lives.

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