National Civil Rights Museum to Host Virtual Commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death
Special to The NNPA
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel presented a virtual commemoration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy April 4, the 52nd anniversary of his death. Since the pandemic surge, the museum has retooled its original event to produce digital content and a virtual broadcast entitled, “Remembering MLK: The Man. The Movement. The Moment.” The program aired at April 4, on the museum’s website, YouTube, Facebook and Livestream platforms.
Each year the Museum commemorates the tragic event that occurred on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. This year, the virtual commemoration was held April 4. Videos included some of the best segments of MLK50 and past ceremonies with remarks from civil rights icons Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., Rev. James Lawson and Dr. Omid Safi, Islamic Studies Duke University. Performances included selections from the MLK50 Legacy Choir and spoken word by Ed Mabrey. The broadcast culminated with an excerpt of The Mountaintop speech and a moment of silence and reflection at 6:01pm, the time Dr. King was shot.
“We should always stop and reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. King on April 4, but this year it is needed more than ever as we try to navigate through this public health crisis,” said museum president Terri Lee Freeman. “Dr. King’s message of economic equity is so relevant. We are seeing the devastation this crisis is taking not just on the health of our communities but on the economic wellbeing of our neighbors. We are seeing just how fragile the financial safety net is for far too many people. Celebrating King’s acceptance of humanity, but disdain of inequity and injustice, is very important in 2020.”
On the morning of the program, museum educator Dory Lerner read the children’s book, Martin’s Big Words, engaged young viewers in learning activities, and answered parents and children’s questions about King.
Since March 28, the museum has shared digital elements to highlight the final year in the life and works of King – from his delivery of the Beyond Vietnam speech to the Mountaintop speech hours prior to his assassination, and subsequent reactions. Key new components include:
- Music video – A remote gathering of musical artists from all over the country performing Dr. King’s favorite song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”
- Poetry challenge – Poets were invited to submit their original poem in tribute to Dr. King by April 4 via social media using the hashtag #RememberingMLK and tagging @ncrmuseum so their poems may be shared on the museum’s social channels.
- MLK POV – In the week leading up to April 4, museum historians, Dr. Noelle Trent and Ryan Jones, shared their points-of-view in video chats about pivotal events in the movement, adding backstories from their perspective and research.
- Last seven days timeline – A digital timeline of the last week of Dr. King’s life illustrates the work he did in support of the striking Memphis sanitation workers and the city’s climate in 1968. Starting from March 28 when Dr. King marched for the sanitation workers in Memphis to his death on April 4, the sequence of events includes his final hours at the Lorraine Motel.
- From the vault – From the museum’s collections, images of never-before-seen condolence letters sent to the Lorraine Motel following King’s death will be shared in the museum’s collections blog, “From the Vault,” and social media channels.
- RISE – A special performance of Collage Dance Collective’s “RISE,” a dance tribute to Dr. King.
The museum’s event can view King’s legacy and ideas for positive social change at https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/april-4th-commemoration or Livestream at https://livestream.com/ncrm website, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/450mulberry or Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/ncrmuseum. For more information, visit April4th.org.