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'Make sure dream of Dr. King never dies' | Memphis area clergy, mayors honor civil rights icon's legacy

The annual gathering by SCLC in Memphis remembered Dr. King's work and sacrifice in the city in the weeks leading up to his assassination in 1968.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In Memphis on MLK Day Monday, the day carried extra weight for local pastors in the organization Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. founded in 1957: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC.

At the annual gathering in Memphis, speakers laid out what they believed was Dr. King's legacy in the city where he was assassinated in 1968.

The event at Greater Mt. Moriah Baptist Church sits less than two miles away from the Lorraine Motel.

"Make sure that the dream of Dr. King never dies," SCLC Memphis Vice-President Sam Blount said. "I do know that he had a passion for Memphis, Tennessee, and he lost his life for us."

Speakers paid tribute to that sacrifice Dr. King made in Memphis, where he joined the city's striking sanitation workers and their demands for better pay and working conditions, in the weeks leading up to his assassination.

"Whether you were a doctor or a sanitation worker, he was a humanitarian that represented all of America," Bishop Blount added.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the civil rights icon left behind a legacy of service in Memphis and he challenged Memphians to continue that legacy of volunteerism.

"We are a better city than when he stood on that stormy night April 3rd, 1968, but as Pastor (Dr. Walter) Womack just said 'we have so much more work to do'," Mayor Strickland said.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris added Dr. King's activism in Memphis still serves as a model, more than a half century later.

"The only way to bring real lasting change is to build diverse coalitions. The coalition King and others built on a conscience in 1968 included union workers like William Lucy, white and black clergy," Mayor Harris said.