Chicago man reflects on his time with Dr. Martin Luther King

August 28, 2013 (CHICAGO)

"Oh, I was starstruck. I just wanted to be in his presence," said Spencer Leak, Sr., former driver for Dr. King.

Spencer Leak Sr. was in his early 20s when he met Dr. Martin Luther King. It was in the early 1960s, during Dr. King's first of many trips to Chicago and Leak jumped at the chance to be his chauffer.

"He had this boisterous laugh, he had a great sense of humor. He used to kid me about the way I drove the car," said Leak.

He drove a limousine that was part of the family business, Leak and Sons Funeral Home. The family was also involved in the civil rights movement. Leak's father became friends with Dr. King and marched with him in Selma, Alabama and attended the March on Washington fifty years ago.

Leak says over the years there has been progress for African-Americans, but also setbacks.

"I think he would marvel at the fact that a black man sits in the White House. That would cause him to rejoice. But then I think there would also be a tear in his eye when he looks at the incarceration rate of blacks," said Leak.

Leak says it's important for African Americans to take stock and ask whether Dr. King's life was in vain, and look join together as a community to live up to the example set forth in King's message.

"If we could unite under his persona, his philosophy, his personality, that should be enough to unite us as a people," said Leak.

Leak also says Dr. King would be devastated by the rate of black on black crime. He says that last year, his business performed funerals for more than 100 homicide victims.

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