Today is Martin Luther King Day and President Obama's second term inauguration.
A letter opener may have changed history. Martin Luther King Jr. would have died long before the “I Have a Dream” speech if the woman who attacked him in a Harlem department store in 1958 had been armed with an automatic pistol instead of the sharpened letter opener she plunged into his chest.
A NYPD officer stopped a panicked onlooker who was reaching to pull it from King's chest.
The NYPD officer told King not to cough or sneeze or even speak as they lifted him onto a chair and began to carry him out through a back exit and rushed him to Harlem hospital. The doctor reported that the blade had been a hair’s breadth from King’s aorta. The slightest motion would likely have made the wound fatal.
King lived to give the “I Have a Dream” speech five years later, in 1963. The assassination by rifle bullets of President John F. Kennedy three months later prompted King to speak of a social sickness that runs as deep as racism.
“By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing, by allowing all these developments, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes,” Martin Luther King Jr.
As as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and President Obama's inauguration today we remember King was assassinated with a rifle bullet as was former President Kennedy, President Lincoln, President Garfield, President McKinley and Robert F Kennedy.
Throughout NYC today celebrations in honor of Martin Luther King will take place from a tour of Harlem that will include stops at the Apollo Theatre, Lenox Lounge (where Billie Holiday performed), and the site of the NYC assassination attempt to performances by the world famous Harlem Gospel choir.
Today in Washington, New York will play a major role in the inauguration. New York talent, food and beverages will share the spotlight in today's Presidential inauguration.
The ceremony will begin with a performance by the P.S. 22 chorus from Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Tabernacle will sing just before Vice President Biden is sworn in - by Bronx-born Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.