Local men talk about their relationship with MLK Jr.

Posted at: 01/20/2014 7:14 PM
By: Jen Samp, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Doctor Lenton Malry was the first African American State Representative for New Mexico, but before he influenced our state, he was motivated by Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

“I thought he was the kind of person I wanted to be in life,” he said. “I wanted to help bring people together and bring together a society that was segregated. So he really motivated me to do all these things.”

He also marched with Dr. King a few times and was shocked to hear the news of his assassination back in 1968.

“My wife told me that Dr. King had been shot in Memphis Tennessee. I just sat down, I couldn't say anything or do anything, I was just hurt like something just hit me real hard,” he said, “I didn’t speak for five minutes and I just sat there thinking what a great man we've lost."

The loss is remembered for generations.

Benjamin Jimerson-Phillips was very young at the time but his father and Dr. King were close friends and colleagues in the Civil Rights Movement.

“My father was a very prominent Minister, Bishop JL Patterson out of Memphis Tennessee and he was part of an organization called Church of God and Christ,” he said, “After the loss he never talked a lot about him because there was a great deal of guilt there were a lot of ministers in Memphis who were urging him to come at that time.”

Both say the country has come a long way since the life of Martin Luther King Junior, but there is more work to be done.

“We’ve gone from a dream to a reality of having a black president,” Jimerson Philips said, “Even more so I think there are still struggles ahead.”

“The battles that used to be won marching are now battles that are trying to be won in personnel offices,” Dr. Malry said.