MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Visitors traveled far and wide to attend events on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s assassination.
The sounds of Wade in Water was musician Suavo Jones’ way of setting the tone for the day. He’d played earlier in the day on Beale Street and gave WREG a sample as he walked behind the Lorraine Motel.
“I try to play strong songs that kept us together and told us ‘Hey, there is a tomorrow. There is hope for tomorrow,” said Jones.
Reflecting on how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go is exactly why thousands of people from across the country visited Memphis on this day.
Lynell White came with other union reps from New Orleans.
“It means a whole lot for me. It means a lot that I get to go back to work and let everyone know we were here for the better, for better jobs and better raises for the people at home,” White said.
NewsChannel 3 met three women who’d driven 22 hours from Atlantic City, New Jersey to be a part of honoring Dr. King.
“I would not have had a chance to do this. This is once in a lifetime,” Kaitelyn Rose said.
“I think it’s really inspiring, because there’s a lot that needs to be changed in our current environment,” Kera Wageley said.
Even young college students traveled to bear witness.
“I’m from Grambling State University. I’m here with the Order of Brotherhood Incorporated, and we’re here to support the cause and the history,” student Startavious Williams said.
We also met a couple from Sydney, Australia who stumbled upon history after traveling to Memphis on a tour of the southern U.S.
They say they are looking forward to the MLK50 events.
Seitu Jones came in from St. Paul, Minnesota.
He has a friend involved in the dedication of the I Am A Man Plaza.
“We came down to support him, to support the community and share our love,” Jones said.
In addition to all the people who traveled from all cross the world to be in Memphis, many local residents came out as well.
“When this happened to Dr. King I was 7-years-old, and I never will forget that day. It means a lot to me to be a part of this,” said June Newsome.
Paul Brooks said because of King, he’s been able to live a better life. He became a local firefighter.
“It’s an honor. This is the least I can do,” said Brooks.