King Assassination Anniversary To Be Commemorated

Posted: April 1, 2014

Daily News-Record

To commemorate the 46th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., a showing of “Beyond Vietnam: A Summons to America!” will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 4 at the Lucy F. Simms Center in Harrisonburg.

The event, which will include light refreshments and a round table discussion after the film ends, is sponsored by the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, Occupy Harrisonburg and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Way Coalition.

According to Michael Snell-Feikema, a member of Occupy Harrisonburg, the 30-minute film is centered around a speech King delivered April 4, 1967 — exactly one year before he was shot in Memphis, Tenn. Snell-Feikema says the speech is significant because it marked the first time King publicly denounced the war in Vietnam.

“He saw the Vietnam War suck up all the money that could have been solving poverty,” Snell-Feikema explained, adding that King predicted that poverty rates would increase unless America changed its values.

Stan Maclin, the president of the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center, believes the speech took King’s movement to “a whole new level.”

“He really attacked the draining of resources [on war],” said Maclin. “He challenged America that it could be better.”

Snell-Feikema says the film, created by Phyllis Cole-Dai, uses images and video clips to help visualize the issues King discussed.

“It brings [the era] back for people who were there, and then it creates it for those who weren’t,” he said. “It’s a way of giving people an intense experience of what he was trying to communicate in that speech.”

Although Snell-Feikema’s seen the film “quite a few” times, he says he still finds it moving.

Maclin and Snell-Feikema hope those who attend will stay after the film to get to know one another as a community, and to discuss their thoughts on the speech.

Referencing the January 2014 renaming of Cantrell Ave to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Maclin adds that he felt it was important to hold an event honoring King’s values because he doesn’t want the city to forget that “something significant happened” when the street was renamed.

“A conversation has started in Harrisonburg,” Maclin remarked. “We want to keep it going and keep it alive.”

Contact Katie King at 574-6271 or

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