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WATCH: Martin Luther King Jr. Honored As Thousands March To ‘Keep The Dream Going’

The commemorations stretch from his hometown of Atlanta to Memphis, where he died, and points beyond

  • FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. (AP Photo/File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
    FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. (AP Photo/File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
  • FILE - In this Sept. 16, 1963 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., announcing he and other African-American leaders have called for federal Army occupation of Birmingham in the wake of the previous day's church bombing and shootings which left six black people dead. (AP Photo/File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
    FILE - In this Sept. 16, 1963 file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives a news conference in Birmingham, Ala., announcing he and other African-American leaders have called for federal Army occupation of Birmingham in the wake of the previous day's church bombing and shootings which left six black people dead. (AP Photo/File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
  • FILE - In this 1960 file photo, Martin Luther King Jr. speaks in Atlanta. The civil rights leader had carried the banner for the causes of social justice — organizing protests, leading marches and making powerful speeches exposing the scourges of segregation, poverty and racism. (AP File Photo)

 (Photo Credit: AP File Photo)
    FILE - In this 1960 file photo, Martin Luther King Jr. speaks in Atlanta. The civil rights leader had carried the banner for the causes of social justice — organizing protests, leading marches and making powerful speeches exposing the scourges of segregation, poverty and racism. (AP File Photo) (Photo Credit: AP File Photo)
  • FILE - In this March 1, 1965 file photo, registrar Carl Golson shakes a finger at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during meeting at the courthouse in Hayneyville, Ala. King inquired about voter registration procedures but Golson told him that if he was not a prospective voter in Lowndes county, "It's none of your business." King visited two nearby counties after leading a voter registration drive in Selma. (AP Photo/Horace Cort, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Horace Cort, File)
    FILE - In this March 1, 1965 file photo, registrar Carl Golson shakes a finger at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during meeting at the courthouse in Hayneyville, Ala. King inquired about voter registration procedures but Golson told him that if he was not a prospective voter in Lowndes county, "It's none of your business." King visited two nearby counties after leading a voter registration drive in Selma. (AP Photo/Horace Cort, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Horace Cort, File)
  • FILE - In this April 3, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)
    FILE - In this April 3, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)
  • FILE - In this March 22, 1956, file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is welcomed with a kiss by his wife, Coretta, after leaving court in Montgomery, Ala. King was found guilty of conspiracy to boycott city buses in a campaign to desegregate the bus system, but a judge suspended his $500 fine pending appeal. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)
    FILE - In this March 22, 1956, file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is welcomed with a kiss by his wife, Coretta, after leaving court in Montgomery, Ala. King was found guilty of conspiracy to boycott city buses in a campaign to desegregate the bus system, but a judge suspended his $500 fine pending appeal. (AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene Herrick, File)
  • FILE - In this July 27, 1962 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is arrested by Albany's Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett after praying at City Hall in Albany, Ga. King participated in a month's long campaign of local anti-segregation led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (AP Photo, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
    FILE - In this July 27, 1962 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is arrested by Albany's Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett after praying at City Hall in Albany, Ga. King participated in a month's long campaign of local anti-segregation led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
  • FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy stands with a group of leaders of the March on Washington, at the White House. From left are Whitney Young, National Urban League; Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference; John Lewis, Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee; Rabbi Joachim Prinz, American Jewish Congress; Dr. Eugene P. Donnaly, National Council of Churches; A. Philip Randolph, AFL-CIO vice president; Kennedy; Walter Reuther, United Auto Workers; Vice-President Johnson, rear, and Roy Wilkins, NAACP. (AP Photo)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo)
    FILE - In this Aug. 28, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy stands with a group of leaders of the March on Washington, at the White House. From left are Whitney Young, National Urban League; Martin Luther King Jr., Southern Christian Leadership Conference; John Lewis, Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee; Rabbi Joachim Prinz, American Jewish Congress; Dr. Eugene P. Donnaly, National Council of Churches; A. Philip Randolph, AFL-CIO vice president; Kennedy; Walter Reuther, United Auto Workers; Vice-President Johnson, rear, and Roy Wilkins, NAACP. (AP Photo) (Photo Credit: AP Photo)
  • FILE - In this Jan. 18, 1964 file photo, President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with civil rights leaders in the White House in Washington. From left, are, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; James Farmer, national director of the Committee on Racial Equality; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League. (AP Photo, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
    FILE - In this Jan. 18, 1964 file photo, President Lyndon B. Johnson, right, talks with civil rights leaders in the White House in Washington. From left, are, Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; James Farmer, national director of the Committee on Racial Equality; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Whitney Young, executive director of the Urban League. (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
  • FILE - In this March 31, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, who heads the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, preaches to a capacity crowd from the pulpit at the National Cathedral in Washington. King spoke from the Cathedral's Canterbury Pulpit. It would be his last Sunday sermon before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis. (AP Photo/John Rous, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Rous, File)
    FILE - In this March 31, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, who heads the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, preaches to a capacity crowd from the pulpit at the National Cathedral in Washington. King spoke from the Cathedral's Canterbury Pulpit. It would be his last Sunday sermon before he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis. (AP Photo/John Rous, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Rous, File)
  • FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1964 file photo, U.S. civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize from Gunnar Jahn, chairman of the Nobel Committee, in Oslo, Norway. (AP Photo, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
    FILE - In this Dec. 10, 1964 file photo, U.S. civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize from Gunnar Jahn, chairman of the Nobel Committee, in Oslo, Norway. (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
  • FILE - In this June 12, 1964 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to Andrew Young as King rides in the back seat of a police car with a police dog as he is returned to jail in St. Augustine, Fla., after testifying before a grand jury investigating racial unrest in the city. (AP Photo, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
    FILE - In this June 12, 1964 file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to Andrew Young as King rides in the back seat of a police car with a police dog as he is returned to jail in St. Augustine, Fla., after testifying before a grand jury investigating racial unrest in the city. (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
  • FILE - In this undated file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preaches in Albany, Ga. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo, File)

 (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
    FILE - In this undated file photo, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preaches in Albany, Ga. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo, File) (Photo Credit: AP Photo, File)
  • In this March 17, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children in their Atlanta, Ga., home. From left are: Martin Luther King III, 5, Dexter Scott, 2, and Yolanda Denise, 7. On April 4, 1968, a movement lost its patriarch when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on a hotel balcony in Memphis. Yolanda, Martin, Dexter and Bernice King lost their father. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
    In this March 17, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children in their Atlanta, Ga., home. From left are: Martin Luther King III, 5, Dexter Scott, 2, and Yolanda Denise, 7. On April 4, 1968, a movement lost its patriarch when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on a hotel balcony in Memphis. Yolanda, Martin, Dexter and Bernice King lost their father. (Photo Credit: AP Photo/File)
  • Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, a bullet robbed us of one of the great human-rights leaders of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo Credit: Photo via Wikipedia )
    Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, a bullet robbed us of one of the great human-rights leaders of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo Credit: Photo via Wikipedia )
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    36233249121_55cd558207_o1
  • Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, a bullet robbed us of one of the great human-rights leaders of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo Credit: Photo via Wikipedia )
    Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, a bullet robbed us of one of the great human-rights leaders of the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo Credit: Photo via Wikipedia )

With thoughts on the past and eyes to the future, thousands marched and sang civil rights songs Wednesday to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the “apostle of nonviolence” silenced by an assassin 50 years ago.

At events ranging from a jubilant concert to a solemn wreath-laying, admirers around the country took time to both reflect on King’s legacy and discuss how his example can apply to racial and economic divides still plaguing society.

Among the largest gatherings was a march through the Mississippi River city where the civil rights leader was shot dead on a motel balcony in 1968. Memphis Police estimated a crowd of as many as 10,000 people.

The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

Two weeks before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, he met with Prairie View A&M University choir. You can find the original story here.

The Rev. James Lawson, who invited King to Memphis 50 years ago to assist with a strike by underpaid sanitation workers, helped lead the march and said more progress is needed toward King’s goal of equality for all.

“I’m still anxious and frustrated,” said Lawson, his black hair turned gray. “The task is unfinished.”

Speaking in King’s hometown of Atlanta, the Rev. Bernice King recalled her father as a great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later.

“We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award a prize named for her father.

As painful as losing her father was, she said she wouldn’t change history.

“Actually, I’m glad that everything happened the way that it happened because I can’t imagine the world that we live in without the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King and the sacrifice that they made,” she said.

Before the Memphis march, the rapper Common and pop singer Sheila E had the crowd dancing and bobbing their heads. Then, as the march began, people locked arms or held signs as they chanted and sang songs such as “We Shall Overcome.”

“We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” said Dixie Spencer, who came to the march from nearby Hardeman County, where she’s an NAACP leader. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

Martin Luther King III addressed marchers at the end of their route, focusing on the triple evils of poverty, racism and war. “There’s something wrong in our nation where a minimum of 48 million people are living in poverty. That’s unacceptable. We must do better. America should be embarrassed about having people living in poverty.”

 

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation in honor of the anniversary, saying: “In remembrance of his profound and inspirational virtues, we look to do as Dr. King did while this world was privileged enough to still have him.”

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/981548354088898560

In the evening, the Atlanta events were set to end with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at King’s crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Small-time criminal James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the killing and quickly recanted, claiming he was set up. The conviction stood, and Ray died in prison in 1998.

Marking the anniversary of the assassination, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation in honor of the slain leader, saying: “In remembrance of his profound and inspirational virtues, we look to do as Dr. King did while this world was privileged enough to still have him.”

The president has been the target of veiled criticism by some speakers at King commemorations in recent days as they complained of fraught race relations and other divisions since he was elected.

Observances marking King’s death were planned coast-to-coast. In New York, the Dance Theatre of Harlem planned an evening performance in his honor. Another march was scheduled in Yakima, Washington.

In Montgomery, Alabama, where King first gained notice leading a boycott against segregated city buses, a commemorative event brought a symbol of transformation: The daughter of King’s one-time nemesis, segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace, paid tribute the slain civil rights leader.

Shirley Mason was a young woman living in Detroit when King was killed. Now 70, she said she came to Memphis not only to honor King’s legacy but to call for his work to be continued.

“(King) went through the struggle and gave up his life,” she said. “Why not get out ourselves and do some sacrificing?”

 

People attend a ceremony commemorating the final speech of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. King delivered the speech, which contained the phrase, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, center, and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, left, co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign, speak at the National Civil Rights Museum Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. They announced the campaign is preparing for 40 days of non-violent “direct action” in about 30 states that will climax with a rally in Washington this June. The organization is the rekindling of the campaign to help poor people that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was working on when he was killed April 4, 1968, in Memphis. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

 

 

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