MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The night before he was shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached before thousands prophetically alluding to his own untimely death, "We've got some difficult days ahead," 50 years later tens of thousands of people came here to make sure his sacrifice was not forgotten.
When Dr. King came to Memphis in April of 1968, he came to stand up for the rights of Shelby County sanitation workers who were dying on the job because of unsafe working conditions. They marched, arm in arm, down the streets of the city holding signs which read, "I Am A Man," alluding not to the marchers sex, but their simple desire to be treated as human.
Wednesday, on the very same streets, holding the very same signs, tens of thousands of people marched from downtown Memphis to the Mason Temple Church where Dr. King gave his final speech the night before he died.
"We lost someone that didn't mind losing his life for us. For the betterment of the people, not just black but everyone. That's why he was so loved," said Gwendolyn Hunter who came here with her two young great grandchildren.
Gwendolyn was joined by Al Sharpton and Bernice Sanders who led the march. Their chants of "This is what democracy looked liked," reverberated from one end of the mile and a half march to the other.
"The dreamer sleeps but his dream lives on," she said.
At the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was shot and killed, black bunting was draped over the balcony. Time here seems to stands still. Which is what drew thousands more to a number of ceremonies commemorating the 50 year anniversary of Dr. King's death.
"It's very important to keep the movement going," said Betty Magness who was 15-year-old the day Dr. King was killed.
A moment of silence was observed here at 6:01pm - the exact time Dr. King was shot 50 years ago. Throughout the city today, his famous final speech could be heard being blared on loud speakers.
"I've looked over and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you and I want you to know tonight we as a people will get to the promised land"