*NSFW/Mature Content in this post. Please use discretion in playing the video below.**
On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot in a hotel in Memphis.
The famous photo of the men pointing up to locate the shooter is among my earliest memories of a world changing event and the idea that those who do good will, for some reason, draw the ire of others. The reverberation of that shot still rings among us. And I suppose there are many attempts to honor what that shot means and meant.
We no longer live in an age of protest music. The time when folk and blues and R&B singers wrote music intended to affect real change has given way to a much different sense of music and its purpose. When I was young there was one band, one group, who still held that mantle, and one of their most famous songs is inspired by “the shot.” This song is old now, and even its genre as a piece of sort-of-metal, sort-of-grunge, sort-of-hip-hop reminds me how dated it is. But it is the youthful, fed-up, confrontational protest that, at least for me, but also for a lot of people I knew when I was younger, made the meaning of this day finally feel real, and immediate. It tied the death of someone larger than life and heroic to a real cause, a real context, and a mission that was ongoing.
It’s okay if this song isn’t your thing. And its okay if this is not a day that you would ordinarily stop to remember. But its a reminder to me to keep stirring up the waters and keep my eyes open and awake.