BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — On April 4th, 1968, a shot rang out in Memphis, Tennessee.
The shot signaled the tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
While his life came to an untimely end, his life’s work toward the civil rights movement, continued.
Two years later, four men walked onto the football field of the University of Virginia, to signal the end of segregation at the school and make UVA the final school to integrate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
One of those men was John Rainey, a star running back from Tazewell County. Decades later Rainey returned home and spoke at John Stuart United Methodist Church in Bluefield.
“Well I think it was a great honor to have me come speak,” said Rainey. “I didn’t expect them to ask me and I said, I’m not really a speaker per se. I just wanted to portray some of the things that happened in the past that still need to address today.”
Garry Moore Sr, the chancellor of Bluefield State College says it’s special to have someone from the area with such an impact on Virginia’s history share his wisdom.
“I’ve said many times, we’ve got some great people around here that we could use all the time to help bless this area, but sometimes, we don’t tap into those resources and I’m gratefully that he is here today to share with us not only his exploits on the football field but also off,” said Moore.
A message he hopes stays in the hearts and minds of those who can make a difference in the future.
“The takeaway is that if we put our minds to anything and our hearts into it, we can do anything and make a difference, what race we are,” said Moore. “We can actually accomplish what Dr. King said: ‘We will be judged by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin.”