Remembering MLK 50 years after his death

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) — It’s been 50 years, but the memories are still as fresh as ever for Rev. Evelyn Burnett Underwood.

“I was the first African-American to be elected to the [Urbana] Board of Education later on that week,” Underwood said.

An incredible, barrier-breaking accomplishment for sure — but that’s not what Underwood remembers most about April 1968.

“I was getting ready in Urbana to go get a coffee,” Underwood said. “I was so devastated with the news, I couldn’t go…Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and I will forever remember that.”

It’s been 50 years, but King’s words still echo through the hearts of all who gathered at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Champaign.

“I think about a man of love, a man of peace, a man of commitment,” said Urbana Alderman Aaron Ammons.

Ammons hosted Wednesday’s reflection complete with fellowship, singing and King’s final speech.

“He brought something that brought the wills of democracy to the United States,” Ammons said. “We did not have that and we’re still working toward that now.”

“Nonviolence is the way to do it — an we must move forward,” Underwood said.

Words Underwood says continue to ring true — even if it’s been 50 years.

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