Thousands gather in Memphis to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King assassinated 50 years ago Wednesday outside Lorraine Motel

By Terrell Forney - Reporter, Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - It's been 50 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

King was shot April 4, 1968, while on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thousands of people gathered in Memphis Wednesday to honor the slain civil rights leader.

"We're going to work all day and work all night until we get it right," people chanted Wednesday morning on Memphis' famed Beale Street.

"We're not living the dream," Kim Harmon said. "Dr. King is still the epitome of the dream, but we still have work to do. We're there, but we still have work to do."

There was also a strong presence of unions from across the nation at the event in Memphis, as King was marching with sanitation workers in the city in 1968, who at the time were fighting for fair pay and safe working conditions.

"That was a sad day for me," retired sanitation worker Baxter Richard Leach said. "Who would've thought 50 years now, all this would've happened for Martin Luther King (Jr.)."

King was killed by a single gunshot just after 6 p.m. April 4, 1968.

His motel room, 306, was never rented out again, and the area is now part of a national civil rights museum.

"We are not going backwards -- we are going onwards – we are going onward, so will you march onward today?" Melissa McBride asked people at the event.

A half-century later, the iconic "I am a man" photo was recreated on Beale Street. The old one is perhaps one of the most recognizable pictures during the civil rights movement.

"I never imagined in all my life you know, walking in the city that he walked in. So even to imagine walking any of those steps and being in the same place -- (it) turns my heart over," Harmon said. "It's an amazing feeling today."

A couple of people from Miami Gardens were among the thousands of people who participated in a march Wednesday in Memphis, which was led by King's son, Martin Luther King III, civil rights activist Al Sharpton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

"We're so fortunate to be here, because we feel the energy of hope for the future," Pat Garvin, of Miami Gardens, said.  

Celebrities also attended the march, including actor and comedian Chris Tucker.

"This is just a great day," he said. "I'm so blessed to be here and to be a part of this."

Meanwhile, South Floridians honored King at the Stephen P. Clark Center in Miami.

The commemoration event was held by the Black Affairs Council of Miami-Dade County and was attended by a diverse group of employees and residents who talked about that fate-filled day 50 years ago when they heard the news of King's assassination.

The common theme of the event was honoring King's legacy by continuing his good work.

South Florida students have also been discussing King's teachings.

While they have only seen the civil rights leader in videos and books, they are channeling him through their activism after the Feb. 14 Parkland school shooting.

"There are a lot of things Dr. King did that, in total, was really inspiring people now," high school junior Kayla Lowly said. "He did a march through Washington hand-in-hand with a bunch of people and, just recently, we saw March For Our Lives, and nobody cared about race, gender, age -- nothing. We were all just a bunch of kids, and even adults, getting together to stand up for something we really believed in."  

"I think he would be really proud to see all types of cultures, all types of religions, all types of races, joining together to fight one cause," high school junior Adrian Pacheco added. 

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