My family moved to South Texas in August 1967 from Columbus, Ohio. We had never lived west of Columbus or south of Washington, D.C. I spent the tumultuous, critical year of 1968 (tumultuous and critical for me, too, because I turned 13) adjusting to a climate and culture that might as well have been Martian for all the relevance my previous life had to present circumstances. I knew who the Reverend King was, knew that my parents' supported him, and had the sheltered northerner's certainty that everyone felt that way.
So I was unprepared to discover the shocked, pained expressions on the faces of the black kids unreflected on those of the whites. Mutterings that the Reverend King "had it coming" and that he should have kept his mouth shut stunned me. I had never heard anyone -- much less 13-15 year old kids -- take such satisfaction in the death of any human being, much less one like Martin Luther King. Then I overheard a teacher agreeing with a group of white kids while telling them to keep quiet about it. That's when it really hit: Adults felt that way. Not characters from To Kill A Mockingbird, but flesh-and-blood intelligent adults who knew better. Or who ought to have. I don't suppose that I ever felt the same about the adult world after that.
Subsequent revelations about Martin Luther King's personal life failed to diminish his achievements and hopes. They simply showed that he was a person with failings and weaknesses, just like the rest of us. He had his moments of doubt, but when the cup came he drank from it. He drank deep. That's the most anyone can ask of themselves. It was America's great fortune that Martin Luther King had that kind of courage.