In what might be the biggest week in the history of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, officials there are preparing to launch a massive week of programming to honor the life and legacy of the man whose legacy they preserve on the 50th anniversary of his death.
“Remembrance Week,” will begin on April 4, the anniversary of the day that King was killed in Memphis and run through April 9, the anniversary of his funeral.
King’s birth home and Ebenezer Baptist Church – where King served as co-pastor and where his funeral was held – are maintained by the National Historical Park, which is part of the National Park Service’s network of parks and historic sites.
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King’s crypt is across the street at the King Center.
“Remembrance Week in 2018 has incredible significance for us and around the world,” said park Superintendent Judy Forte. “Fifty years ago, on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. “The park is recognizing this event with significant programming during this week, and a special exhibit all year. We are proud and honored to be a part of this tradition.”
The park’s list of programs includes:
•Throughout the run of the programming, from April 4 -9, 2018, the 15-minute film, “The Last Days of King,” will play throughout the day in the Visitors Center from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. In the film Coretta Scott King, the King family and close associates share personal moments about King’s life and death.
• Silent open houses tours of the King Birth Home will run from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. To join the free tours, visitors must meet at the front steps of the Birth Home where a ranger will begin the tour.
“We encourage the visitor to silently walk through the Birth Home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and explore the community and family life that guided and nurtured this future Civil Rights leader,” Forte said.
•The park will start a brief Remembrance Day commemorative program at 5:15 p.m. in the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and end it at 6:01 p.m. On the day that King was killed in 1968, it was roughly 5:15 p.m. when he and his staff retreated to their rooms to dress for dinner. Dressed and ready, King walked on to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel about 45 minutes later. He was shot at 6:01 p.m.
•At 11:30 a.m., the park will open an exhibition in the D.R.E.A.M. Gallery located inside the National Park Service Visitor Center, adjacent to the permanent exhibition area. The exhibit, “From Memphis to Atlanta: 50 Forward,” examines the final days of King's life as he journeyed to Memphis campaigning on behalf of poor sanitation workers, to his final return home to Atlanta in death. The center-piece of the exhibit will be the old wooden wagon that two mules carried King’s body in after his funeral.
The exhibit will also feature the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the King Center and the re-designation of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.
• At 10:30 a.m., the park will host the “MLK50 Forward: Together We Win with Love for Humanity,” commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Heritage Sanctuary. The theme for the service is King’s Feb. 4, 1968 Ebenezer sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” where he preached about how he wanted his funeral. The sermon was replayed at his funeral.
• Beginning at noon, a commemorative “The March for Humanity” will begin in front of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church heading for the State Capitol. Forte said the march will serve as a global clarion call to the world of how “together we win with love for humanity.” Following the March, there will be a “Love for Humanity” program to “uplift and encourage the world to push the message of love and humanity forward,” Forte said.
The March 21 documentary 'The Last Days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.' on Channel 2 kicked off a countdown of remembrance across the combined platforms of Channel 2 and its partners, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB Radio.
The three Atlanta news sources will release comprehensive multi-platform content until April 9, the anniversary of King’s funeral.
On April 4, the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the three properties will devote extensive live coverage to the memorials in Atlanta, Memphis and around the country.
The project will present a living timeline in real time as it occurred on that day in 1968, right down to the time the fatal shot was fired that ended his life an hour later.
The project will culminate on April 9 with coverage of the special processional in Atlanta marking the path of Dr. King’s funeral, which was watched by the world.