Commemorating MLK 50 years later: Speeches, marches and reflection nationwide

Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the civil rights leader’s family and admirers were marking the anniversary of his death with marches, speeches and quiet reflection Wednesday.

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

The anniversary coincides with a resurgence of white supremacy, the continued shootings of unarmed black men and a parade of discouraging statistics on the lack of progress among black Americans on issues from housing to education to wealth. But rather than despair, the resounding message repeated at the church was one of resilience, resolve, and a renewed commitment to King’s legacy and unfinished work. (AP)

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<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>A flag bearing the image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., waves in the wind at his gravesite on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Atlanta, Ga., Wednesday, April 4, 2018. ( Photo: David Goldman/AP) </p>
Atlanta, Ga.

A flag bearing the image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., waves in the wind at his gravesite on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Atlanta, Ga., Wednesday, April 4, 2018. ( Photo: David Goldman/AP)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Silent march and rally in Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>People hold signs, resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968, as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP) </p>
Memphis, Tenn.

People hold signs, resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968, as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP)

<p>Jeremiah Bridgewater visits the gravesite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Atlanta, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. “It’s heart wrenching. Fifty years ago most of us try to remember where we were and because of his sacrifices we can enjoy some of the pleasures we once weren’t able to,” said Bridgewater. “We’re still not where we ought to be but at least we’re further down the road.” (Photo: David Goldman/AP) </p>
Atlanta, Ga.

Jeremiah Bridgewater visits the gravesite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Atlanta, Wednesday, April 4, 2018. “It’s heart wrenching. Fifty years ago most of us try to remember where we were and because of his sacrifices we can enjoy some of the pleasures we once weren’t able to,” said Bridgewater. “We’re still not where we ought to be but at least we’re further down the road.” (Photo: David Goldman/AP)

<p>Wearing a t-shirt of Martin Luther King, Jr., Debra Payne, of Kansas City, Missouri, sings “This Little Light of Mine,” next to Jo-Lynn Gilliam, of East Point, Ga., as they attend the A.C.T. To End Racism rally, Wednesday, April 4, 2018, on the National Mall in Washington, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Wearing a t-shirt of Martin Luther King, Jr., Debra Payne, of Kansas City, Missouri, sings “This Little Light of Mine,” next to Jo-Lynn Gilliam, of East Point, Ga., as they attend the A.C.T. To End Racism rally, Wednesday, April 4, 2018, on the National Mall in Washington, on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

<p>People commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., hold a silent prayer walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial past the Washington Monument to the National Mall in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images) </p>
Washington, D.C.

People commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., hold a silent prayer walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial past the Washington Monument to the National Mall in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

<p>Anti-racism marchers from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism reach out to touch the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as they engage in a silent march and rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader’s assassination in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Anti-racism marchers from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism reach out to touch the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as they engage in a silent march and rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader’s assassination in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>People gather for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, while in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP) </p>
Memphis, Tenn.

People gather for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. King was assassinated April 4, 1968, while in Memphis supporting striking sanitation workers. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>People attend a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

People attend a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>People attend a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

People attend a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

Attendees are seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>An attendee is seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters) </p>
Washington, D.C.

An attendee is seen during a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, April 4, 2018. (Photo: Eric Thayer/Reuters)

<p>Dwania Kyles hands out signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as people gather for an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP) </p>
Memphis, Tenn.

Dwania Kyles hands out signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as people gather for an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP)

<p>Martin Luther King III (L) and his sister Bernice King address the I AM 2018 “Mountaintop Speech” Commemoration at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, the same place their father, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “Mountaintop” speech on the eve of his assassination, April 3, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. The city is commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images) </p>
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Martin Luther King III (L) and his sister Bernice King address the I AM 2018 “Mountaintop Speech” Commemoration at the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, the same place their father, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “Mountaintop” speech on the eve of his assassination, April 3, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. The city is commemorating the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination on April 4, 1968. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

<p>Five men who took part in the Memphis sanitation workers strike in 1968 wait for a ceremony to begin at the Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. From left are Cleophus Smith, Ozell Eual, Elmore Nickleberry, Baxter Richard Leach, and Rev. Leslie R. Moore. The church is where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech, which contained the phrase, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. King was in Memphis to support the striking workers. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP) </p>
Memphis, Tenn.

Five men who took part in the Memphis sanitation workers strike in 1968 wait for a ceremony to begin at the Mason Temple of the Church of God in Christ Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. From left are Cleophus Smith, Ozell Eual, Elmore Nickleberry, Baxter Richard Leach, and Rev. Leslie R. Moore. The church is where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his final speech, which contained the phrase, “I’ve been to the mountaintop,” on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated. King was in Memphis to support the striking workers. (Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP)

<p>Visitors look at the balcony where MLK was shot at the the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, from the view of the gunman, during events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 2018. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht/Reuters) </p>
Memphis, Tenn.

Visitors look at the balcony where MLK was shot at the the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, from the view of the gunman, during events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 2018. (Photo: Karen Pulfer Focht/Reuters)

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