50th anniversary of King’s assassination approaching

Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pose for a portrait at home in Atlanta in March 1968. Dr. King was assassinated only weeks later (Special to the AJC/Ben Fernandez)

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Coretta Scott King and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pose for a portrait at home in Atlanta in March 1968. Dr. King was assassinated only weeks later (Special to the AJC/Ben Fernandez)

Barely two weeks after marking the 49th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., his daughter is now looking at ways to honor the civil rights leader a half-century after his death.

Bernice King, the CEO of the King Center, said this week that for 2018 she is preparing to “facilitate a year of ‘edutainment’ and empowerment designed to engage youth, students, families, faith communities and marketplace leaders in remembering Dr. King's assassination.”

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis at the age of 39. The year 2018 will mark 50 years after his death and 50 years after Coretta Scott King founded the King Center to carry forth his legacy.

“Both my parents deposited a wealth of wisdom, in the form of writings, speeches, and demonstration on this earth,” said Bernice King, the couple’s youngest daughter. “The 2018 50th anniversary commemorations will highlight what they deposited, while also inspiring and informing us about how to build the beloved community by cultivating what they left us."

Bernice King said that with the "MLK50 Forward: Together We Win with Love for Humanity," as the global theme, the King Center will host a wide array of events, while partnering with other organizations like the National Civil Rights Museum, to tell her parents' stories.

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, grew out of the Lorraine Motel, the site where King was killed.

The museum recently kicked off a year-long commemoration, "MLK50: Where Do We Go from Here?" 

Judy Forte, superintendent for the National Park Services' Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, said the park has also started planning for the year. Aside from special ceremonies, there will also be several exhibits, including a museum exhibit that will include the caisson used to carry King's casket from Ebenezer Baptist Church to the Morehouse College campus on the day of his funeral.

Forte said landmark anniversaries and dates from King’s life usually up the park’s attendance.

With the 50th anniversary of King's death approaching, 2018 might be the district's biggest year ever and park officials are already working on refurbishing the home that King was born in. 

“It is incumbent upon us to realize that, while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were global, influential leaders who answered divine calls to fulfill great assignments, we, too, have assignments to complete,” Bernice King said.

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