IN THIS WEEK of national concentration -- once again -- on domestic violence, there falls the anniversary of a day that rocked the country and sparked days of destruction in this city. It was early evening on April 4, 1968, when the first bulletins hit the portable radios in the crowds that used to fill the sidewalks of 14th and U Streets NW: Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot in Memphis. Then came the dreaded news: "Martin is dead." Word quickly spreadly along the busy corridor, and shock turned to frustration, anger -- and eventually into more than three days of rioting that ripped at the heart of Washington and left scars that still refuse to disappear in those neighborhoods.
Dr. King's life was spent in the cause of non-violence, a connection that will not be lost this weekend as Americans gather in dozens of cities and towns to reflect on the occasion. This year, in addition to the regular church services and community commemorations, special programs of public seminars, meetings and lectures are being held under the auspices of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change, along with a broad coalition of civic organizations and local groups. In Washington, members of the Black Caucus will join seminars planned on Capitol Hill, at the Howard University Law School and downtown at 1901 Q Street NW.
No one is anticipating that these gatherings will produce brand new resolutions of the struggles to which Dr. King was devoted, all of which were linked to a halt to voilence. But if these anniversary commemorations can stir throughtful. continuing attempts to rediscover and build upon the moral force that Dr. King was able to generate, the time will not have been wasted.