MEMPHIS (CBSMiami) – The Lorraine Motel in Memphis was at the center of a day of remembrance on Wednesday.
That’s where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 50 years ago, April 4th 1968.
He was just 39 years old.
A day of remembrance was held at the motel which is now the National Civil Rights Museum.
The events kicked off with music, prayer and speeches, including the inspirational words of Dr. King himself.
“Somewhere I read that the greatness of America was the right to protest for what is right.”
In Washington, D.C. the capital provided a backdrop for a ceremony in Dr. King’s honor.
“We remember all too well the day that our nation once again had to face the violence that is racism as it took the life of Martin Luther King Jr,” said Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas of the Washington National Cathedral.
In Indianapolis, congressman John Lewis, a champion of the civil rights movement, spoke on the same spot where in 1968 Robert Kennedy informed a crowd that Dr. King had just been killed.
“This is hard for me, this is hard for me to come back here,” Lewis said.
Tuesday evening, commemorations began at the Memphis church where Dr. King delivered his last speech.
His children gathered at the pulpit to celebrate their father’s work and legacy.
“I know our God didn’t bring us this far to leave us,” said Martin Luther King III.
King said the civil rights movement lives on through his father’s model of nonviolent protest.
“I believe a coalition of Black Lives Matter, the MeToo Movement, these young people, we’re going to see folks coming to the polls like never before,” he said.
Despite the civil rights progress over the last half-century, the National Civil Right Museum’s president says America needs to complete Dr. King’s vision of peace and justice.
“The issues persist that Dr. King came to Memphis to focus on and, in fact, some ways have gotten worse,” said Terri Lee Freeman, president of the National Civil Rights Museum.
Wednesday’s remembrance ceremony in Memphis was a reunion of the civil rights old guard, some of whom marched with Dr. King. They see this anniversary as a reminder of how far America has come — and how far we have to go.