Solemnity will be the order of the evening, when sites across the country will ring bells 39 times, symbolizing the civil rights leader's age at his death.
He said the civil rights movement lives on through his father's model of non-violent protest. "What people too often forget is that beyond inspiring speeches and letters, Dr. King held a deep understanding of strategy and an expert execution of his vision".
Activist Bob Moore said he was having a planning session at the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee office he had started in Maryland when he received word of the assassination. We must still educate and organize and mobilize.
Moore and his colleagues had planned to call for a day of mourning, but those efforts were cut off by riots that broke out in Baltimore.
On 4 April 1968 the newly elected President Robert F Kennedy, the brother of an assassinated president who would himself be killed two months later, announced King Jr's death.
"By the end of the 20th century, you have a real black middle class in America, which Dr. King would certainly have taken some credit for and been encouraged by", Toure Reed, a history professor at Illinois State University, said on GLT's Sound Ideas.
What did it mean for the movement? "Within a year, because people organized, within a year there was a Voting Rights Act", Booth explained. "I greatly admire your courage and strength to love, and I learn from you daily".
In April 1963, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Council organized the Birmingham Campaign to protest segregation, which involved a series of sit-ins and marches. Speakers and performers are scheduled all day at the motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum.
Does it mean that we don't cuss out those who cuss at us?
"The issues persist that Dr. King came to Memphis to focus on and, in fact in some ways, have gotten worse", Terri Lee Freeman said. "I hope King's last speech will give you strength for the hard journey ahead". "The next day was the funeral".
"But what they were honoring was the fame and acclaim he had achieved as the result of his role as a civil rights leader. And then you remember all of the positive things that he left behind".
A bill approved by Congress for the designation was signed by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday's events at the park marking the 50th anniversary of King's death. So even though it's been 50 years, it doesn't seem like it. But moments later, there she was with the others, at his side.
According to advocacy organization Global Movement's Black Lives Matter video: "There have been much more aggressive cases of police killing before thinking. I don't think our communities are ever the same", Draper said.
But his legacy, Jackson said, survives in the hearts, minds and actions of demonstrators today wielding flags of racial, social and economic justice.
It was an opportunity for the people who were the future to actually see one of the generals of the movement in person up close and personal.
The Latest on commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
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