Hempstead man has close family ties to Dr. King

? A Hempstead man, with close ties to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., fondly remembered the slain civil rights leader Monday while the world also marked his legacy with parades.

Bill Wachtel says his father, Harry Wachtel, started a powerful friendship with Dr. King in the 1960s during the lunch counter sit-ins. The younger Wachtel says his father was inspired to help when his then 10-year-old daughter asked him how he could sleep at night knowing black people were not allowed to eat at lunch counters where he worked.

Harry Wachtel, who was a lawyer, contacted Dr. King and devoted many pro bono hours to the fight for civil rights. Bill Wachtel says he can remember walking with Dr. King on one of his visits to Fire Island. Wachtel also says his father organized meetings between the minister and the White House and recruited many other whites to help.

Harry Wachtel died in 1977, but the friendship he started lives on today through his son Bill and Dr. King?s son Martin III. Together, they?ve launched the Drum Major Institute to continue the battle against social injustice.

Related LinksA Tribute to Dr. King written by former C.W. Post Professor Melvin Sylvester The Drum Major Foundation Farmingdale State University Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Research Guide Stony Brook Africana Studies

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