Bimini fisherman reflects on time spent with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Just days before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, we’re told he spent time in Bimini.

The civil rights icon was there to write what would be his final speech.

He was impacted by the words of a legendary fisherman he met during his visit.

Ansil Saunders was recently in Fort Lauderdale, receiving an honor from the International Game Fish Association.

Back in Bimini, Bahamas, Saunders is a bone fishing legend, and now, a retired fishing guide whose most famous client was King.

“He told me, ‘You know, Ansil, I don’t think I’ll make 40 years old,’ and he died at 39,” Saunders told Local 10 News. “It was a rich life, just very short.”

Days before his final march in Memphis for striking sanitation workers, King was in Bimini, where Saunders says the civil rights legend would often come to write.

“We didn’t have time to fish, he just wanted to write at that time. He came to Bimini and said, ‘Bimini is so peaceful,’” Saunders said.

King found a quiet place in Bimini’s Bonefish Creek in 1968, Saunders says, to write the words of his final and famous mountaintop speech.

“I am happy tonight, I’m not worried about anything -- I’m not fearing any man,” King said.

“The next day, actually, he was dead,” Saunders said. “He just left Bimini four days before that.”

“It was a high-powered rifle that killed him. He didn’t suffer but we suffered for him,” he added.

Saunders says what he’ll always remember is King’s reaction to a psalm he wrote and delivered to the Atlanta preacher for several minutes on his boat.

“But only God can create a mustard tree, only God can give life to you and me. Amen,” Saunders recited. “He said, ‘Ansil, you made me feel so close to heaven, and I feel as though I could almost reach up too and touch the face of God, and touch the face of God.”

Saunders says he also took King to another perfectly peaceful place in Bimini to write another famous speech, his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964.

About the Author:

Five-time Emmy Award-winning newscaster Calvin Hughes anchors WPLG-Local 10's 4, 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts.