41 years later: Memphis remembers Dr. King - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

41 years later: Memphis remembers Dr. King

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - The National Civil Rights Museum hosted a series of events to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the assasination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Groups from as far away as Ireland traveled to Memphis Saturday to honor his civil rights legacy.

"It's terrible to be where a person died," said visitor Catie Hanlon outside the Lorraine Motel. "But it's a special place, and you can see it means a lot to people who are coming here."

Despite threats against his life, King traveled to Memphis to fight for better working conditions for sanitation workers. On April 4, 1968, he was assassinated on the balcony of the motel, now part of the museum.

"He came here for the sanitation workers in spite of the foreknowledge that he could possibly be killed," said Shelby County Commissioner Henry Brooks.

Elmore Nickelberry has worked with the sanitation department for 54 years.

"I was on my way down to the hall where he got killed," he said. "I got half way down there and they started burning things, so I came on back."

On Saturday, the National Civil Rights Museum honored Nickelberry and the other surviving sanitation workers, who marched with King through the streets of Memphis to call for better working conditions.
 
And more than a hundred people gathered to witness the dedication of Founder's Park on the grassy knoll outside the Lorraine Motel. A banner there lists the names of groups and individuals who've contributed time, money and resources to support the museum's efforts.

"Martin Luther King had a dream and it needs to become a reality," said former city councilwoman Carol Chumney. "I think it's time that we moved into the reality of making this city better."
 
But SCLC President Rev. Dr. Dwight Montgomery says there's still so much work to be done. "The issues of black on black crime, the issues of an education system that does not have the proper funding, nor does it have the proper support."

Montgomery says it's up to each and every one of us to carry Memphis from its darkest hour to a new era of change.
   
Memphis resident Richard Robinson agrees, saying, "for the rights he was able to get for folks, but also at the same time, to continue the fight."

 

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