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A Living History

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CNN's six-hour documentary Black in America narrated by Soledad O'Brien begins on Thursday, April 3rd, with a look back at the assassination in Memphis of Martin Luther King Jr. The hour-long episode promises new insights but only rehashes old conspiracy theories. Still, various first-hand accounts of King's whirlwind life and death help to broaden our understanding of a complex man who knew he was taking a risk every time he got out of bed in the morning. Particularly ominous, we're told, was the darkening of King's humor just prior to his death. King's associate Andrew Young tells O'Brien that at the moment of his assassination even some of his closest companions paused, wondering if it wasn't an elaborate joke intended to help everyone cope with the idea that in a racially divided America, they were all marks. King, it's said, would ease the minds of his friends by telling them how great their funerals would be and by preaching a comic eulogy.

There's simply no substitute for hearing history from people who lived it. At 7 p.m. on April 3rd, the eve of the 40th anniversary of King's death, the National Civil Rights Museum is hosting "In Remembrance There Is Life," a night of storytelling by assorted witnesses to King's life, work, and death. Speechwriter Clarence B. Jones, civil rights activist Benjamin Hooks, and Detroit organizer Tony Brown will share their memories, along with Dorothy Cotton, who served as education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, former sheriff and mayor Bill Morris, Rainbow-PUSH director the Rev. Billy Kyles, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

On Friday, April 4th, at 5:30 p.m. the Civil Rights Museum is holding a candlelight vigil in honor of King. On Sunday, April 6th, at 5:30 p.m., New Sardis Church on Holmes Road is hosting the Martin Luther King Jr. Symphony.

"Black in America" begins airing Thursday, April 3rd, at 8 p.m. on CNN. For more information on events related to the Martin Luther King Jr. 40th anniversary commemoration, go to civilrightsmuseum.org and to the Flyer's calendar, starting on page 40.

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