King family, The King Center honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

In cities across the country and throughout the world, people gathered among friends and family to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., as well as honor the 50th anniversary of his assassination in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

Leading the worldwide celebration was the Atlanta-based Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (The King Center) — King’s youngest daughter the Rev. Bernice King serves as its CEO — in a spate of activities planned over a two-week span in Memphis and Atlanta.

The week of festivities kicked off with a memorial flight by Delta Airlines from Atlanta to Memphis. The trip, which included a group of ministers and a number of special guests of Bernice King, also featured a special guided tour of the National Civil Rights Museum (Lorraine Motel).

“My father demonstrated his love for this country by striving to bring about the nonviolent social change needed for America to reach its full potential as a nation committed to justice and equality for all,” says Bernice King. “Today as we reflect on his life and work we are reminded that as citizens of the world we all have a part to play in creating the ‘Beloved Community.’

“In his memory, we are all called upon to rededicate ourselves to the elimination of the triple evils of racism, poverty, and militarism,” she added.

On April 4, the actual anniversary of King’s assassination, several hundred people gathered to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of his assassination and founding of The King Center in Atlanta, as well as to bear witness to this year’s recipients of the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize Awards.

Bernice King awarded Nonviolent Peace Prize Awards to attorney Benjamin B. Ferencz — an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the Chief Prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen Trial — and attorney Bryan Stevenson — the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who also has enjoyed an extensive career as a public interest lawyer.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize is The King Center’s highest award and is presented for commitment to nonviolence as a way of life through which social justice, human rights, and civil liberties are attained for all.

“I cannot tell you how extraordinary it is to receive an award with King’s name,” Stevenson said, following the reception of his award. “We’re going to keep fighting to lift up justice.”

Following the ceremony, legendary news anchor Monica Kaufman Pearson moderated a luncheon and panel discussion with Ferencz and Stevenson.

Later on April 4, Bernice King, flanked by her brothers Dexter and Martin Luther III, as well as King’s sister Christine King Farris—and their families—laid a wreath on King’s crypt and led a worldwide moment of silence, capped off by the ringing of a bell 39 times.

Other events to commemorate the anniversary include a number of “Beloved Community” talks, an invitation-only memorial service on April 9 and a march for humanity, also on April 9.

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