In LA

The Martin Luther King Memorial Tree Grove in Los Angeles

I came across the Martin Luther King Memorial Tree Grove by accident.  I had no idea such a beautiful tribute to the civil rights leader existed.  When I searched for it online to learn more about it, I discovered that information on it was almost non-existent.

Those sources that did mention it gave directions that made it almost impossible to find.  The directions literally state it is at the “highest point in Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.”  This park covers 401 acres.  You can be searching a long time!

How To Get To The Martin Luther King Memorial Tree Grove

First off, I wouldn’t call it a tree grove! There are few trees and the’re not very large.  It is, however, very impressive.  You enter a plaza or promenade marked with the words “I have a dream” and walk past the benches and large polished boulders with Dr. King’s famous quotes engraved on them to a tall obelisk with Martin Luther King’s likeness carved into the face.  Below are more of his most famous quotes.

The promenade and obelisk are aligned to provide a breathtaking view of downtown Los Angeles in the backdrop.  It’s a majestic space and it’s as if you actually feel his presence when you are there.

To get to it drive to Kenneth Hahn Park.  Enter at 4100 S La Cienega Blvd and drive up the main road past the lake and the lower parking lots around the bend to the top.  When you park you’ll see some buildings to the north of you.  Walk in that direction and start following the path about 400 feet and you’ll come to it.

Brief History of Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American Baptist minister and the most visible spokesperson and activist in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1965.  His father, Martin Luther King was also a civil rights activist.  King advanced civil rights through non-violent civil disobedience.  As an example, sit in the front of the bus like Rosa Parks did!

King led marches for desegregation, labor rights and the right to vote for blacks.  King helped organize the 1953 March on Washington where he delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The speech brought greater attention to the Civil Rights Movement and resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act being passed in 1964.

In October 1964 King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through non-violent mans.  After his assassination in 1968 he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.  Martin Luther King day was established as a holiday at the Federal live in 1986.

The Assassination of a Great Man

It’s a sad reflection on man that men who speak out in the face of oppression are attacked and often assassinated.  Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.  He was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

James Earl Ray, a supporter of segregationist George Wallace and a career criminal was charged with the crime.  He spent the rest of his life in prison.

However, Coretta Scott King, King’s widow began to believe Ray was innocent and suspected the FBI was involved in it.  According to the King Center, she stated at a press conference in 1999 “There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.” She believed that to her death in 2006.

Indeed, she had ample reason for her beliefs.  FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover considered King a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 forward.  FBI agents investigated him for possible communistic ties, recorded his extramarital affairs and reported on them to government officials. In 1964 they mailed him an anonymous letter telling him to commit suicide or they would make his affairs public.

In 1975 a group of FBI agents called on Congress to investigate the harassment of King.  Memos were declassified that revealed the agencies abusive behavior toward King but no evidence that they formerly plotted his death was revealed.

I wouldn’t at this point venture an opinion of whether there was an FBI conspiracy to assassinate King, or if if was Ray – but it does fit a pattern.  Lee Harvey Oswald who is said to have shot President Kennedy in 1963 had a checkered past and had been found to have been in contact with CIA agents in Mexico prior to the assassination.  Likewise in the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.  McVeigh’s capture was too convenient.  Neither he nor Nichols had the knowledge to build the bomb that was used in the bombing.  The two people seen renting the truck that contained the bomb didn’t fit the description of McVeigh or Nichols.  Oswald, McVeigh and Ray were known as loners.  Similar circumstances exist with Anthony Warner who was charge with the Nashville Bombing.  Again he was a loner.  Loners with no close familial ties make easy people to set up as patsies to take the fall.

I wish I had the resources to do in-depth research into these incidents.  I feel none of us know the full truth of them.  The point is I would be unable to rule out with good conscience involvement with members of our government in any of these incidents. In the last few years I’ve seen another very prominent pubic official come under a similar pattern of abusive behavior from the FBI as King was subjected to.  In conclusion I’d have to say that Coretta Scott King was more than just a little justified in her beliefs that the FBI may have been involved in her husband’s death.

I strongly encourage people of all races to go to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Tree Grove and reflect on the work of this man to bring equality to men.  The memorial will leave a lasting impression on you.  With February being Black History Month, now is the perfect time to do it.

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