April 6, 1968, was a Thursday night and as was our custom, we were at choir rehearsal. My mother was a musician, and helped direct choir rehearsal every week. As far as I can remember, I and my brothers learned to sit and listen (or draw/color pictures) or mindlessly be bored quietly while songs and section practice went on.
The night was typical and boring. I was eleven approaching twelve. It seemed that rehearsal was almost done when Sister Elizabeth Golder (the Pastor’s wife) came to the edge of the balcony and got our attention.
“Saints! We’ve all got to pray – they have shot and killed Martin Luther King!” The announcement elicited an emotional outburst from choir members who then said the dismissal prayer before hurrying home to hear reports on television.
Not far from church, Senator Robert Kennedy had arrived in Indianapolis to campaign for the Democratic Nomination. He was to give a campaign speech in a neighborhood near 16th Street and College Avenue. When the news broke of the shooting, the campaign became aware before the gathered crowd. Senator Kennedy spoke to the crowd informing them of the shooting then deescalating their alarm and grief such that there was no rioting or destruction in Indianapolis unlike other cities.
A commemorative ceremony is held on this day yearly in Indianapolis in honor of both King and Kennedy who was slain the next year as he gained momentum toward the nomination. The coincidence of this series of events congealed slowly in my memory. The older I get, the more I understand how significant yet understated these events were.