‘A Poignant Memory’

by Jerry B. Jenkins Moody Bible Institute Chairman of the Board of Trustees 

On April 4, 1968, I was an 18-year-old Moody student confined to the Chicago campus because of violence in the streets.

Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, and blacks in Chicago – and all over the U.S. – reacted with a rage born of frustration and helplessness.

We adolescents found ways to entertain ourselves. I had sentry duty on the fourth floor landing of Smith Hall as my compatriots tipped a garbage pail full of aluminum cans over the railing from the seventh floor.

They hit the basement like an atomic bomb. That brought the authorities running. I hid in the prayer room. When a resident advisor burst in, I assured him, “They’re not here!” He thanked me and ran off.

I took to the roof. Stepping out onto a small balcony, I saw the city from a new vantage point. Streets were closed. To the south and west I heard sirens and craned my neck to see the inky sky lit by dozens of fires. From what was then known as LaSalle Drive (now Boulevard) I heard the roar of engines and spun in time to see a parade of military vehicles charging south, their massive, ugly chassis straddling the double yellow line.

I wanted to experience it, to know what was really going on. So I stupidly ventured out. A grocery store was ablaze a few blocks away. I will never forget the terror in the eyes of the crowd running toward the fire. Or the weeping. Everywhere, sobs and tears.

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Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The full version of this article will be published in the next edition of the Moody Standard, coming out on Apr. 17.

Pictured above: Chicago burns in the midst of the chaos after King Jr.’s assassination.

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