Reverend Jesse Jackson kicked off MLK 50 events during a spirited service at Mount Olive Cathedral in downtown Memphis Sunday.
Over the next day or so, people who were here 50 years ago in earshot of the bullet that killed Dr. King will stand shoulder to shoulder with those who have heard and read about it.
Jackson first captured public attention as the tall afroed young man amongst King’s advisory team in 1968.
He is pictured amongst those at the Lorraine Motel 50 years ago.
Sunday he recalled his last days with King, but as the founder and leader of Rainbow PUSH Coalition he talked about where we go from here, the theme of MLK 50.
Music was an important element of the civil rights movement and it was a huge part of Sunday’s service.
Children brought tributes reciting portions of King’s last speech and Jackson’s “I Am Somebody” speeches.
Before Jackson took to the pulpit to recall the final hours with King, fitting for an Easter Sunday, he talked about the reasons Memphis is a special place.
“I suppose that what makes me feel excited about Memphis is that Memphis is a different place. Atlanta is Bethlehem, Mason Temple is his Gethsemene and Calvary is the Lorraine Motel. The resurrection did not take place far from the crucifixion…Right here is where America’s transformation must start anew,” said Jackson.
Jackson said there has been progress since 1968, but he still sees work to be done.
He said first there must be a revival of the war on poverty, and affordable healthcare must be made available to all people as needed.