Residents remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during bell tolling ceremony

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Shortly after seven Wednesday afternoon, around the time Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis 50 years ago, a bell rang 39 times in Chattanooga.

“The 39 times marked the number of times that Dr. King lived on the earth and we are remembering not only the work that he did do, but the current call to action,” Unity Group Correspondence Secretary Eric Atkins said.

“That bell was housed in the first stone building in Lookout Mountain elementary school, which in the 1960’s Hamilton County, that was the first planned desegregation school in Hamilton County,” Bessie Smith Cultural Center President Paula Wilkes said.

People gathered on the lawn to watch a bell tolling ceremony at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center.

Memphis native Terri Rodriguez brought her daughter and granddaughter.

Rodriguez said she was only six-years-old when Dr. King was assassinated.

“For all of the things he did to change the way our lives are today, as one of those individuals, that’s why we’re here I wanted to share that with my granddaughter today,” Rodriguez said.

“I want to do great things just like Martin Luther King, Jr,” Rodriguez’s granddaughter Teryn said.

“We’re very happy to continue his legacy. Not only just here in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but worldwide to continue to promote that legacy by implementing the fact that kindness does matter, and that respect and importance for all cultures is a very important thing. Not only yesterday, but today,” Rodriguez said.

The bell tolling ceremony was a part of other ceremonies happening nationwide with the first bells ringing at 7:01 p.m. ET at the place where Dr. King was assassinated, what is now the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.


Categories: Chattanooga