Martin Luther King Jr: 5 Virtual Events To Commemorate The 55th Anniversary of His Assassination

Critical conversations on the slain civil rights leader’s legacy are on the agenda at various celebrations of his life.

On April 4, people across the country will gather at churches, community centers and join online events to observe the day an assassin’s bullet took the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he stood on a terrace at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. in 1968. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the civil rights icon’s murder. At these gatherings, folks will reflect on King’s extraordinary life of sacrifice and evaluate how far the nation has come toward achieving his dream.

In some areas, African Americans have made great strides since his death, including the election of the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama. But the struggle continues in economics, education, and social justice, as the Urban League’s 2022 report on the State of Black America so aptly points out. There is still much work to do. 

Today may be sad for those who are brought back to the moment they first saw or heard Walter Cronkite deliver the shocking news report about King's murder during the broadcast of "CBS Evening News." For others, it's a day to galvanize efforts around King’s legacy and provoke discussions about the state of the Civil Rights movement will coincide 

If you can't make it IRL, here are five virtual events to attend.

  1. National Civil Rights Museum and The King Center

    In a joint event, the National Civil Rights Museum at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel and the King Center in Atlanta will host “MLK55: Transforming Unjust Economic System.” MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid will moderate the virtual conversation with King’s daughter, Dr. Bernice King, and King Center President Dr. Russ Wigginton.

  2. Simmons College “From Memorial to Movement”

    A discussion about racially biased policing is on the agenda at Simmons College of Kentucky on April 4. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is slated to attend the event, “From Memorial to Movement,” at the Louisville HBCU. The talk will center on the Department of Justice’s investigation that found a pattern of violating civil rights and discrimination against Black people in the Louisville Metro Police Department, including the case of Breonna Taylor. The event will stream at 12 p.m. EST on YouTube and Facebook.

  3. Reading Dr. King in America

    On Wednesday, April 5, the D.C. Black History Celebration Committee and the D.C. Public Library will co-host an in-person and virtual reading of King’s speeches. Featured speakers will include Kenneth B. Morris Jr., a descendant of Frederick Douglass, and Deborah Watts, co-founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. Registration is required.

  4. “Day of Remembrance”

    In Seattle, Rainier Avenue Radio will broadcast a live program at the Holgate Street Church of Christ to celebrate King’s legacy. The event is organized by the Seattle King County Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Committee and features keynote speaker Bishop Reginald Witherspoon Sr.  The event will be streamed on YouTube.

  5. Critical Conversation

    Talk show host Tavis Smiley and Vanderbilt University Professor Michael Eric Dyson will discuss King’s impact and legacy live on April 4 on radio station KBLA 1580 and YouTube.

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