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April 4, 1968: Locals Pause to Observe King Assassination

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Many ponder: “Where were you?”

Where Were You When Martin Luther King, Jr. Was Killed? April 4, 1968, the day Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated 8-year-old Nathan Crandell came home from a neighbor’s house to find his grandmother, mother and two sisters in a dark room huddled around a small beige radio listening to the voice that announced the civil rights leader had been shot at a Memphis hotel.

“I remember those sad words ‘Martin Luther King is dead’.” I felt helpless and numb, said Crandell who is white. “I remember crying, that is all.” Wednesday, Crandell and other locals placed candles and flowers at the feet of the civil rights leader’s statue in downtown Riverside.

“The memory that stands out most in my mind was that judging from the pale look on my grandmother’s face this was something big that I would remember the rest of my life,” recalls Crandell, a retired businessman.

“I remember feeling empty in my young heart,” he said. “I never met Dr. King but I remember being moved by the words he spoke over that same beige radio,” said Crandell.

“I knew his murder was wrong and I wanted to know why they took his life. Like my sisters I asked a lot of questions. For years I held out hope that my grandmother, parents or some other adult would explain why they took the life of someone who did so much good. They never did.”

“My parents supported the civil rights movement but they had to do so in silence. I knew that black people were treated very badly, and wanted to know why; and I knew when I saw Dr. King speak on TV in front of a large crowd that there was some hope that good would triumph over the evil my young eyes saw.”

“Following his death, I got busy learning all I could about him, and the movement which he did so much to champion. King has remained an inspiration to me from that period of my life onward,” said Crandell

“Every year I come to his statue to remember, ponder and shed a few tears,” says Crandell, “Forty-four years later, I look around and see the violence, hatred, and racial strife and wonder if we learned anything from that sad day in April.”

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