Hendrix College participated in a bell ringing ceremony Wednesday to commemorate 50 years since civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thirty-nine members of the campus community — student leaders, faculty, administrators and more — rang 39 bells to honor King’s 39 years of life as apart of a national bell tolling ceremony led by the National Civil Rights Museum.
Seventy-one year old Alice Hines rang the first bell to start the ceremony.
Hines, an African American, grew up in Menifee, Arkansas, where schools were segregated; she said she could remember riding the inner-city bus line and having to stand up.
As a young woman, she said, she recalled having to use “nasty, filthy wash basins” at the train station in Morrilton, set aside for "people like her."
Despite the obvious racism, Hines said she wasn’t truly attacked for being black and didn’t face prevalent hatred until she went to Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended Spelman College in the 1960s.
“I had never, ever had anyone spit on me until I got to Georgia,” she said.
There, she said she saw King many times and his sister Christine King Farris was even one of her teachers.
When King was killed in 1968, Hines said she could recall exactly what she was doing.
“It was such a trying, terrible, terrible time that I remember crying,” she said. “Not uncontrollably, but just crying and saying, ‘why.’ It was 1968. I had already graduated. I was working and studying, preparing for a class and I thought, ‘isn’t this amazing,’ that [I had] to stop.”
Hines said King cared about human life in a way that many today don’t, and when he was killed, the nation lost the one person that was trying to show us all "a better way."
“When we lost him, in a real sense, it was losing the one person whose trust you know you had all the time,” she said. “Someone who actually stood out there. It took someone very brave … history has spent a lot of time talking about what he didn’t do right and what he should’ve done. Why don’t we focus on why he had to do what he did in the first place.”
Hines said King was brave because he stood up and fought not just for African Americans, but also for the quality of all human rights.
The ceremony at Hendrix, she said, was wonderful and needed.
“It is time that we do more than recognize his birthday but recognize also what a horrendous loss it was for the entire country,” Hines said.