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Thousands congregate in Memphis for 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Thousands are gathering in Memphis this week to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Several events are planned at the National Civil Rights Museum.

Cleveland resident Pamela Brown stood outside the museum Tuesday afternoon and wept.

“I wouldn’t be standing where I am today if it wasn’t for Dr. King,” she said.

Michael D. Shields made a 12-hour drive from Wisconsin to mark the anniversary.

“I hope that people remember that Dr. King was nonviolent and that we live in a world of a lot of violence right now and that they would take that to heart and maybe have more peace and love for each other,” he said.

There were several organized labor members in Memphis to commemorate the anniversary. Dr. King’s final speech was about improving economic conditions for striking sanitation workers.

Gregory Thornton, a cook at Fr. Lauderdale Airport, made the 16-hour drive to witness Wednesday’s ceremonies.

“Dr. King was fighting for economic justice just like we’re fighting today,” he said.

St. Louis 28th Ward Alderwoman Heather Navarro made the trip to Memphis with her family because they were on spring break.

“We think this is really a momentous occasion here. It really shaped the nation and is continuing to shape what’s happening,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to be an alderman in the City of St. Louis right now and these are the same issues that were grappling with and it’s important that we know this history and remember it. To be here in this place you know really strikes at something you don’t get just by reading a book.”