(Updated 9 a.m.) Sumner County resident has connection with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Laue is shown in this picture in the background. Not sure the details of this picture but it was recently featured on the Today Show. Sally Lebeda of Caldwell made a screen shot photo.This article was originally published on Feb. 19, 2017. Since this is the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, we have decided to reprint it again.by Amber Schmitz, Sumner Newscow — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has a connection with Sumner County – albeit indirectly. James Laue, father of Caldwell Public Library’s librarian Lisa Moreland, worked alongside Dr. King for eight years.Before Moreland married her husband Matt Moreland and moved to a farm south of South Haven, she was a little girl of a father who worked closely with the civil rights leader. He was there on the night he was slain.In 1968, Laue was staying in a room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. next to Dr. King on the night he was shot, and was also the first person to come to his aide afterwards.“In April of 1968, I was not quite 3 years old, and I had a little brother who was almost 1,” Moreland said. “My family was living in Virginia at the time, and my father was working for the Department of Justice in the Community Relations Service, a position put into effect by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”This picture was taken at Martin Luther King’s assassination. King is in the lower left picture with Laue circled.Laue grew up in River Falls, Wis., where he attended the University of Wisconsin. After an African American professor sparked his interest in the civil rights movement, he packed his belongings and headed on a train to Harvard, where he earned a Ph.D. in race relations. After choosing the topic “Direct Action with Desegregation,” he found himself right in the middle of the civil rights movement.He met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1960 working alongside him as a student and helper for eight years, mostly in Atlanta, Ga., but also Albany in 1962, Selma in 1965 and Chicago in 1966. Laue’s wife, Mariann Laue, was in a faculty wives’ club with Coretta Scott King while working at Emory University in Atlanta. Both Laue and his wife were present at the dinner where King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.Laue traveled to Memphis with Dr. King in 1968, where he had been called to speak by local ministers. During this time, there had been much racial tension, mass marches and violence over a sanitation workers’ strike.“Needless to say, my mother wasn’t too thrilled about my father going to Memphis,” Moreland said. “But she knew he was a man of conviction when she married him. He had been in dangerous situations before, including the time he was put in jail in Miami, Fla. for participating in a Woolworth’s lunch counter demonstration.”Fortunately, because Laue was diabetic, he was released from prison.The Lorraine Motel is now a civil rights museum, and Laue’s name is listed on a plaque there.“My father passed away in 1993 from complications of diabetes, shortly after the 25th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination,” Moreland wrote. “Fortunately, my dad wrote a personal report of his memories of being with King on that fateful day in Memphis. I am so thankful he took the time to record his recollections and that my mother was able to fill in missing details through the years.”(Update material) In an USA Today article released last week (click here) Laue was described this way: James Laue, the Justice Department observer, went on to become a pioneer in the field of conflict resolution, and he founded one of the first university programs in the discipline. In 1984, he helped establish the U.S. Institute for Peace, a federal agency that promotes conflict resolution.Laue, obscured in most of Louw’s Lorraine photos, never volunteered that he was there. But others remembered him. In his autobiography, Abernathy described a white man on the balcony after King fell, “frightened enough to be crawling on his hands and knees but brave enough to bring a blanket to spread over Martin.”Shortly before his death in 1993 at 56, Laue wrote that King’s “life — and his death — changed my life.” He always denied that King saw non-violence as “a tactic to use against your enemy.” Rather, he argued, it was “a strategy to convert your enemy.”After Laue’s death, Attorney General Ramsey Clark sent his wife a letter of sympathy.The following is a partial account written by Laue in 1993, 25 years after King’s assassination.“April 4, 1968: Memphis: I’ve been in Memphis for several days now, on assignment with the Community Relations Service of the U.S. Department of Justice. The reason: racial tension swirling around the sanitation workers’ strike, mass marches, scattered violence. And, of course, the presence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., invited by local ministers.I have been staying at the Lorraine Motel, room 308. In my work in racial conciliation since 1960, I have always wanted to be at the nerve center of the movement, so I generally have stayed in the black community in private homes or in black-owned facilities. So it is not unusual that I am here — and the other federal civil rights officials I know to be in town are staying at the “white hotels” downtown. Martin Luther King, Jr. is registered in room 306 at the Lorraine.I came to Memphis because I thought I saw something of an old-style (i.e., early 1960s) southern movement developing. I had been with Dr. King as a student, helper, and later government official. Memphis looked like a return to the early 1960s approach that won desegregation victories for Dr. King and tens of thousands of unremembered colleagues and students in hundreds of cities throughout the South.As head of evaluation for the CRS, I wanted to be here to see how our agency would cope in a return to the mass movement approach in which I had grown up as a participant and student. My boss, assistant attorney general Roger Wilkins, wasn’t sure I should go. But he trusted my judgment — and understood my wish to be near the center of what looked like a regenerating social movement.”Laue wrote on that fateful day 50 years ago today:“Yesterday and today have rekindled the feeling of old-style southern movement — mass meetings, sometimes stiff visits to law enforcement and media, sitting in on movement strategy sessions, keeping Washington selectively posted.“A booming thunder and lightning storm crackled over the church in Memphis last night, punctuating Dr. King’s sermon to a mass meeting. He placed the sanitation workers’ strike in historical context: the flight out of Egypt, the Reformation, the American Revolution. You are more than a garbage worker in Memphis, he said, you are part of a great historical movement.”Laue said he remembers King’s final speech of his life. And this quote stuck with him:“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountain top. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried….I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!’Laue said later that night he remembered a last glimpse he caught outside a union office where we had gone for a late-night strategy session. Dr. King was sitting in a car, briefly alone, waiting for a ride back to the Lorraine. He was looking off into the night, seemingly detached and pensive.Then came King’s final day. Laue wrote:“Dr. King spent today, April 4, in court and in a round of meetings, sometimes with supporters, but more intensely with factions, particularly youth, calling for more militant action. He spent a lot of time doing who he was — reconciling.”Laue said at 6:03 p.m., just after the lead story on today’s court proceedings was published, he was startled by a loud report. It sounded like someone had tossed a cherry bomb in the small courtyard outside our room.“I ran out the balcony and was horrified to see Dr. King stretched on the landing 10 feet to my right. Kneeling at his side, I saw that a gaping neck wound already had yielded a pool of blood, and had stopped bleeding. His eyes closed slowly. He did not move. I did not hear him speak.”“I rushed back to my room in a futile effort to help, bringing back towels to put under his head, and a blanket. I tried to make him comfortable. Several of us joined the ambulance crew to help carry his stretcher down the balcony stairs. I think he died instantly. He was officially pronounced dead at the hospital an hour later.”According to Laue’s report, within minutes the courtyard swarmed with men in uniform.“Within minutes, still clutched by grief and disbelief, I was extraordinarily fortunate to get one of the two existing motel lines to call Washington — twice. Eve Wilkins was the first in Washington to hear; Roger wasn’t home yet. So I called attorney general Ramsey Clark and gave him the appalling news.”Moreland said that “Life” magazine printed pictures of the images that her father described.“When my dad returned home to Virginia, the FBI interviewed him about the assassination,” Moreland said. “My father, and others, directly told the investigators that they believed it was a conspiracy, but there was no further investigation.”A few years after the assassination, the Laue family moved to St. Louis, Mo., where Laue accepted a position at Washington University.“We lived in a ‘white’ neighborhood, but I didn’t know a lot of the neighbor kids, because they attended private schools, and it was never a question that we would attend the public school that was 80 percent black,” Moreland wrote. “I was taught to accept everybody as a child of God and stand up for anybody being mistreated.”Laue’s personal report ended with these statements:“Fate or God had given me eight years of knowing Martin Luther King, Jr. His life — and his death — changed my life. He taught me that ‘conflict resolution,’ a laudable goal on the surface, does not truly occur without struggle refined in love and that justice is not fulfilled without reconciliation. I am unremittingly grieved at his death; I am joyfully grateful for the gift of his life.” Follow us on Facebook.Follow us on Twitter. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (5) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +9 Vote up Vote down Local · 181 weeks ago Very interesting article! Thank you for sharing. Report Reply 0 replies · active 181 weeks ago +4 Vote up Vote down Brian Silcott · 181 weeks ago Thank you for sharing Sumner County’s historical connection to the greatest moral movement of the 20th century. Report Reply 0 replies · active 181 weeks ago +1 Vote up Vote down Sherry Kline · 181 weeks ago Very interesting! Thank you for sharing!! Report Reply 0 replies · active 181 weeks ago +2 Vote up Vote down southsideresident · 123 weeks ago Moving historical account by James Laue of the last days of MLK and his dedication to racial equality. Report Reply 0 replies · active 123 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down Ed Schlumpf · 122 weeks ago Jim Laue was responsible for me going to UW-River Falls to school. I was privileged to work with him on the school newspaper just one year before he graduated. I never knew of his involvement with the Civil Rights Movement, but am grateful that this story brought me up to date. He was a great Christian man. Report Reply 0 replies · active 122 weeks ago Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. 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