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Former Memphian and Amistad descendant spreads MLK’s message in Africa

MEMPHIS, Tenn-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of racial equality doesn't just resonate in this country, but also around the globe. As WREG counts down to 50 years since Dr. King's assassination in Memphis, we look at how one former Memphian is spreading Dr. King's message in Africa.

Samuel Pieh recently returned to the Bluff City to talk about MLK and how his own family's story is helping America learn from its past.

Steven Spielberg's 1997 movie 'Amistad' told the story of captivity from the viewpoint of its main African character Sengbe Pieh, the slave ship mutiny, the rebellion he led and subsequent trial in America.

Samuel Pieh is a direct descendant of Sengbe Pieh.

"Because of my experience with the Amistad saga I have really been working with young people in Cote d'Ivoire, Burundi and Sierra Leone to really look at their history and learn lessons from it," Pieh said.

Pieh is a former instructor at Southwest Tennessee Community College living and working today in Burundi.

He recently returned to Memphis for the WLOK Black Film Festival to discuss why the movie Amistad is relevant today.

"In 1830 a diverse group of people, women, men, Christians, non-Christians, Europeans, Africans, came together to fight the evils of slavery."

Pieh also believes some of the evils that divide people today can be erased when the world embraces Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality.

"You know a dream is in every one of us and realizing that dream, it should be our hope and Dr. Martin Luther King led us to a straight route to take us to that promised land. I hope more young people can be exposed to the diversity."

It's one reason Pieh toured the National Civil Rights Museum to be inspired and to take that inspiration to young people in Africa by spreading Dr. King's message.

"The examples Dr. King led for us, the vision he shared for us. He said I might not get there with you, but he has that dream that some day and that some day can be very soon or later depending on how one of us actively participates with a conscience."

Samuel Pieh, a man sharing his family's story about America's past and discussing this country's current battles with race in hopes of paving the way for a better future.

"I always tell all the eight African counties I've been to I said America is one of the best places in the world, they have faced their ugly past, their ugly history, but they've made efforts to make a change."