MLK anniversary: What is the National Civil Rights Museum and what will be taking place there Wednesday?

Through the Years: Martin Luther King Jr.

Many observances will be held Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., but one of the most stirring will take place in Memphis, Tennessee.

The National Civil Rights Museum will hold a daylong commemoration of the life and works of King, who was murdered while in Memphis in 1968 while supporting the city’s sanitation workers in their bid for safer working conditions and better pay.

The museum, which is on the site of the Lorraine Motel where King was shot and killed, will have programs featuring, among other speakers, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King in Memphis on the day he was killed.

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The museum was established in 1991 and houses exhibits and historic collections that chronicle the fight for civil rights in America. In 2013-2014, the center underwent a $27.5 million renovation, adding more than 40 films, oral histories and interactive media exhibits, according to the museum's website.

Here is some information about the museum and what will be taking place Wednesday.

Where is it?

The museum is at 450 Mulberry St. in downtown Memphis. It's built around the old Lorraine Motel.

What is happening there on Wednesday?

A number of events are set for Wednesday, the anniversary of King’s assassination, and a very large crowd is expected. A commemorative ceremony, set to begin at 3:30 p.m. will take place in and around the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, at the spot where King was shot.

Here, from the museum’s website, is the schedule of events for Wednesday:

10 a.m. until close: Daylong tributes from the MLK50 Main Stage in the museum courtyard – music, dance and spoken word performances and reflections from civil rights leaders in salute to King. Free to the public.

3:30 p.m. to 6:01 p.m.: The 6:01 50th Anniversary Ceremony from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel – There will be a ceremony with the laying of a wreath, ecumenical liturgy, musical and spoken word tributes, and remarks from civil rights icons. Free to the public.

6:01 p.m.: Bell Toll – Bells ring at places of worship, college campuses or institutions 39 times across the nation to honor the number of years King lived, and to pay homage to his legacy.

6:15 p.m.: Evening of storytelling – Civil rights icons and New Movement Makers will speak about "the Movement" then and now. This is a ticketed event at Crosstown Concourse. Note: Organizers say this event is now sold out.

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What about in the museum?

The new exhibit "MLK50: A Legacy Remembered" will be opened to the public Wednesday. King’s youngest child, the Rev. Bernice King, toured the exhibit in advance of its opening. The museum also has an exhibit about the Lorraine Motel and the African-American couple, Walter and Loree Bailey, who owned it.

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What are the hours of operation and what does it cost?

On Wednesday, the museum will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, $13 for children ages 5 through 17 and free for children 4 and under.

What if I’m can’t go to Memphis on Wednesday?

You can watch the events of the day via a livestream by clicking here.

MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 03:  Rev. Jesse Jackson (pointing) stands with his family on the balcony outside room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, where he was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated,.The motel is now part of the complex of the National Civil Rights Museum, which is commemorating the 50th anniversary of King's assassination on April 4, 1968.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Credit: Joe Raedle

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Credit: Joe Raedle

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