GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) –It’s been nearly 54 years since civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
On this National Day of Remembrance for the service given and sacrifices made by Dr. King, we’re getting more insight from those who had the chance to meet him.
Greensboro Councilwoman Goldie Wells’ father, Golden Frinks, was a leader and activist in North Carolina’s Civil Rights movement.
Frinks held a position in Dr. King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
“He (King) was an icon. He was what we would say a prophet. He was a visionary, and we had so much hope,” Wells said.
Hope is what the image of Dr. King symbolizes for so many Americans, especially those who look like him.
“My momma said that my daddy just cried, and it was audible. He just boohooed because there was a lot of hopes and dreams in the vision of Dr. King,” Wells recalled.
Over the years, Frinks and King forged a friendship through their love of service and activism.
“When Dr. King won that Nobel Peace Prize, what he did was to divide that money among all the people that worked for him,” Wells said. “He gave each one of them a monetary gift, and he also bought each one of them cars.”
“The day that I was getting married, my daddy was in the den talking to Dr. King on the phone, and I said, ‘I’m getting ready for my wedding. Would you please get off the phone so we can go to the church?’” Wells recalled.
At the beginning of the civil rights movement, Dr. King caught wind of the work Frinks was doing in Edenton North Carolina just 30 miles southwest of Elizabeth City.
At that point, Frinks had become a household name for Black rights himself.
“Dr. King appointed him as his first field secretary for the state of North Carolina,” Wells said.
In fact, Wells remembers being a teenager when Dr. King visited their home for the first time.
The Frinks’ home was called the freedom house: a place that provided a crucial environment for the movement.
“That’s where they would have all their meetings and planning. It led to marches,” she said.
And now that home is being preserved by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. It will become a museum of history that people can tour once it’s renovated.
Wells only recently sold her family home in hopes that the work done inside it would live on despite the passing of her father and his friend Dr. King.
“It’s good that we remember, but I hope that it will jog the memory, and there will be some young people who will have a sparked interest in picking up and moving in a different direction because it’s necessary,” Wells said.
When Wells was asked what she thought Dr. King would say today if he saw the progress or lack thereof that has been made years after his assassination, she had this to say:
“It is sad that on his, the anniversary of MLK Day, we are talking about getting some bills signed so that we can have equal rights for voting, and that’s sad. I think he would be sad to see that he gave the ultimate sacrifice and that the fight did not continue.”