National News

Raleigh evangelist remembers emotion of King's final speech

Posted April 3, 2018 4:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:42 p.m. EDT

On the 50th anniversary of his final public speech, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. resonate across time for those making a pilgrimage to Memphis, Tennessee. Among the 2,000 people present when King declared, "I've been to the mountaintop," was a Raleigh woman, then pregnant with a son.

Fifty years on, Jannie Foster, an evangelist from Church of God in Christ, returned to Memphis to honor King's legacy.

Foster remembers being moved by the emotion of the speech but was not surprised when King said God had let him see the Promised Land.

It wasn't until the next day, after King was assassinated standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, that she made the literal connection.

"We had heard that somewhat at the march in Washington. So, it didn't resonate too well with me until after the assassination," she said. "I said, 'That was what he was talking about.'”

King is ever present in Memphis, and never more so than this week. At Mason Temple, there is a floral arrangement.

At the motel where he was slain, a world-class museum has been erected in honor of King and the civil rights struggle. And across town, at the University of Memphis, an original copy of King’s 1965 “We Shall Overcome” speech is on loan from a local philanthropist.