Dalai Lama Visits King Assassination Site

September 24th 2009

Memphis, TN, USA, 23 September 2009 (The Associated Press) - The Dalai Lama said his visit Wednesday to the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated was sad but inspirational.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was in Memphis to receive the International Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, which incorporates the site of the Lorraine Motel.

The Dalai Lama draped a white shawl over a wreath that hangs over the balcony where King was shot in 1968.

He toured the museum with the Rev. Samuel Kyles, who was with King when he was shot.


Dalai Lama visits King assassination site
AP
DREAM NEVER DIES: The Dalai Lama stands on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr was killed in 1968.


The Dalai Lama said his visit Wednesday to the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated was sad but inspirational.

The Tibetan spiritual leader was in Memphis to receive the International Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, which incorporates the site of the Lorraine Motel.

The Dalai Lama draped a white shawl over a wreath that hangs over the balcony where King was shot in 1968.

He toured the museum with the Rev. Samuel Kyles, who was with King when he was shot.

Kyles told the Dalai Lama that in 40 years he's never found the words to express his feelings about the day King was killed.

"Yes, you can kill the dreamer. No, you can't kill the dream," Kyles said.

Kyles said the civil rights movement was like the Tibetans' struggle with China for more autonomy.

"This history event gives us conviction today the struggle for justice, against inequality, discrimination. . . despite many difficulties and obstacles, can be won," the Dalai Lama said.

He said he often invoked King's name as an example of a freedom fighter who was a true practitioner of nonviolence. The Dalai Lama expressed optimism for Tibet's future, saying totalitarianism was not practical and outdated.

"China has the same constitution, the same one-party system, but compared to 30 or 40 years ago, it has already changed," he said.

He extolled individual compassion as a first step toward world peace.

"Changing the outside world is difficult. Change yourself, one person, one family, ten families, 100 families. Things can change," he said.

After accepting the award from Hooks, the Dalai Lama wrapped another white scarf around his shoulders and told the audience it was a symbol of harmony, because the scarf's tradition comes from India, but the material was made in China.

The award includes a $50,000 honorarium, which he donated back to the Civil Rights Museum, according to a news release.

He joins two other Freedom Award recipients who have donated the honorarium to the museum, former President Bill Clinton in 2003 and former Vice President Al Gore in 2008.

Also Wednesday, the Dalai Lama addressed a crowd of about 1,500 at a public forum.

The museum's National Freedom Award will go to Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights champion Medgar Evers. The Legacy Freedom Award winner is former NBA standout Julius Erving. Both will be presented their awards on October 27.

 

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