Samuel's Open Road
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Indie: The Bon Voyagers
Monumental Baptist Church
civil rights movement, martin luther king
Born into a preacher's family—his dad was a minister—Rev. Samuel Kyles has known preaching his whole life, and knew that he would eventually follow that path. Samuel started preaching at age 19, but also took a role in leading human rights issues during the civil rights movement. Little did Samuel know that because of this, he would soon play a major part in one of the most historical moments in the history of the United States. In February of 1968, Samuel helped to galvanize support for striking workers due to low wages and inhumane working conditions. Part of his effort led Samuel to invite civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Memphis, Tenn., in support of the strike. Dr. King accepted, and helped to lead a march with Samuel that ultimately ended in violence. Dr. King's disappointment in the failed march led him to organize what he deemed to be a second chance at a peaceful march a couple months later. On that fateful day of April 3, 1968, Dr. King gave his infamous speech, in which Samuel continues to reference today: "What will you do with your dream?" Samuel says. "Don't let anyone rob you of your dream, you are so special and the sooner you find your calling, the sooner you can get busy on it and do it for a long time…" The next day after the rally, Samuel invited Dr. King to his home for a home-cooked meal. As Samuel, Dr. King, and another reverend, Ralph Abernathy, left to leave Dr. King's hotel room, Dr. King was assassinated. As Rev. Abernathy has since passed on, Samuel is the last living person to have spent the last hour of Dr. King's life with him. To this day, Samuel continues to be active in civil rights issues and spread Dr. King's undying message of holding fast to one's dreams, and being the best one can be at what they set out to accomplish.