Knoxville pastor remembers working with Dr. Martin Luther King

Knoxville pastor remembers working with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook says even he didn't see the impact Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.'s message would have 50 years later The Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook says even he didn't see the impact Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr.'s message would have 50 years later
Rev. Middlebrook says he remembers the day Dr. King gave his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. That morning he was leading songs through the crowd. Rev. Middlebrook says he remembers the day Dr. King gave his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech. That morning he was leading songs through the crowd.
He also was there the moments after King was assassinated to pack up his bags in the midst of mourning. (source: Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook) He also was there the moments after King was assassinated to pack up his bags in the midst of mourning. (source: Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook)
Rev. Middlebrook still gets fired up when talking about the fight for civil rights, but says he is disappointed that the youth of today aren't as civically involved. Rev. Middlebrook still gets fired up when talking about the fight for civil rights, but says he is disappointed that the youth of today aren't as civically involved.

By TEARSA SMITH
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The nation will mark the 50th anniversary Wednesday of the iconic speech most associated with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Harold Middlebrook is marking the occasion by reflecting on his time working with Dr. King and the "I Have a Dream" speech.

Dr. Middlebrook says even he didn't see the impact Dr. King's message would have 50 years later.

Middlebrook was just a young man when the Civil Rights movement was sweeping the nation.

"There was an electricity in the air. There was a sense of excitement. Some of us had been involved working with Dr. King, in planning and recruiting in building up the need for people to come to Washington," Middlebrook explained.

He was one of the foot soldiers for Dr. King, helping set up before big speeches like the "March on Washington."

Middlebrook's time with King was decades ago, but it's still fresh in his mind.

"It doesn't feel like it. It really doesn't feel like it, but when I remember that I was a youth of 21, and then I remember how old I am now, it reminds me, yeah, it's been 50 years," said  Middlebrook.

He says he remembers the day King gave his legendary speech. That morning Middlebrook was leading songs through the crowd.

"Early that morning there was a sense of tenseness in the air and nervousness," Middlebrook said.

He also was there the moments after King was assassinated to pack up his bags in the midst of mourning.

Middlebrook still gets fired up when talking about the fight for civil rights, but says he is disappointed that the youth of today aren't as civically involved.

"I think we failed our children across the board in not requiring the changing time. What's happening in the world and what's happening in this country. So they are really abreast of where they need to be. And get excited about something in a positive fashion," explained Middlebrook.

Decades after working with King, Middlebrook has yet to slow down.

He helped to form the Knoxville Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Coalition, which hosts yearly events around the King holiday.

After 43 years of pastoring, Middlebrook plans to retire from Canaan Baptist Church in East Knoxville at the end of the year.

He wants to finally have the time to write a book about his life's works and do more public speaking.

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