Eradicating poverty was MLK's focus, not death threats

MONTEVALLO, AL (WBRC) - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sensed danger in April 1968, his friends said.

"He knew there were death threats against him and he realized he could be killed at any time, but he didn't dwell on that too much," says Dr. Wilson Fallin.

Instead of worrying about those threats, Dr. Fallin says King was focused on a bigger issue--eradicating poverty.

Today, Dr. Fallin is a professor at the University of Montevallo. But 50 years ago, he was pastoring a church King visited just hours before his death.

"I was pastoring at the time the New Zion Baptist Church in Bessemer and Dr. King called me and asked me if my church could be used as a place to gather poor people to take them to Washington, D.C.," Dr. Fallin said.

Dr. Fallin says King's trip to Memphis was a side note--a side note that killed the man, but not his dream. Dr. Fallin feels there has been progress in politics and education in the years since King's death.

But he points to other issues King was fighting for 50 years ago, that remain, like the large amount of black men in prison and, yes, poverty.

"Economically we still have a long way to go," Dr. Fallin says. "Our communities are still the poorest communities in any major city and that's certainly true in Birmingham. There's too much poverty in this land of plenty."

So if Dr. King were still alive today, Dr. Fallin believes his message wouldn't be much different than when he died.

"His message would be continue. Continue to fight for better jobs, better housing, a more equitable justice system and I think today, economics and incarceration and anti-war would be his main concerns," Dr. Fallin says.

Copyright 2018 WBRC. All rights reserved.