Tuesday marked 49 years since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
His death was remembered by the National Civil Rights Museum’s annual observance and ceremony that takes place at the Memphis Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated.
Dr. King was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers strike. The night before, he delivered the famed ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech.
Activists claiming an imbalance in economic and social equality prayed, rallied and marched in Memphis on Tuesday.
Hundreds of supporters of the Black Lives Matter and Fight for $15 movements demanded higher wages and equal rights as they walked more than a mile (1.6 kilometers), from Memphis City Hall to the National Civil Rights Museum.
The museum is at the site of the former Lorraine Motel. King was standing on the motel’s balcony when he was shot down by a sniper’s bullet on April 4, 1968. He was in the midst of his ‘Poor People’s Campaign’ when he came to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers seeking better pay, safer working conditions and union rights.
Led by a 220-piece band from Talladega College in Alabama, marchers chanted, “This is what democracy looks like,” and held signs saying “I Am A Man.” Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words “Show Me $15. Real Change. No Pennies.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. spoke during a prayer breakfast. The prayer breakfast was held at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in midtown Memphis, where roughly 200 church leaders gathered.
At Tuesday’s gathering, Jackson told the crowd there should be marches to save the Affordable Care Act, reminding people that civil rights battles were won because “we fought.”
“We have never, we have never lost a battle that we’ve fought, we have never lost a battle that we have fought. During slavery we fought, we won. Women’s right to vote, we fought, we won. End legal apartheid, we fought, we won. The right to vote, we fought we won. A Black president, we fought, we won. We have never lost a battle we fought and never won a battle unless we fought,” he said.
Rev. Jackson ended on a positive note saying progress has been made. He says the city of Memphis has a more diverse city council and Tennessee state legislature.