The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is one of the nation's premier heritage and cultural museums and is located at the former Lorraine Motel, where King's life was taken while standing on a second-floor balcony.
The commemorations stretch from his hometown of Atlanta to Memphis, where he died, and points beyond. Nonviolent Peace Prize was presented Wednesday by King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, to Benjamin Ferencz and Bryan Stevenson at the King Center in Atlanta.
The Memphis events are scheduled to feature King's contemporaries, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as rapper Common.
King had delivered his "I've Been To the Mountaintop" speech at Memphis' Mason Temple Church of God in Christ the night before he was assassinated.
The day of King's assassination, Robert F. Kennedy, who had recently announced his presidential candidacy, was slated to appear in Indianapolis.
"50 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken from us too soon. Reverend King we can't legislate morality and he would say we 'are not asking for the government to make my neighbor love me, we are asking the government to keep my neighbor from killing me, '" Reed said.
As painful as losing her father was, she said she wouldn't change history.
"Now it seems to be more of a cultural thing just to say, 'I commemorated Dr. King's death.' It's what I expect to see, but I would like to see more education around the whole occurrence". Now 70, she said she came to Memphis not only to honor King's legacy but to call for his work to be continued.
NASA Awards Big Contract for Design of Quieter Supersonic Aircraft
No supersonic commercial aircraft has been in service since British Airways and Air France halted Concorde flights in 2003. The X-plane will create a "gentle thump", a sound that would be no louder than closing a vehicle door.
The resounding message repeated at the church was one of resilience, resolve, and a renewed commitment to King's legacy and unfinished work.
"In my opinion, Dr. King is the greatest American we have ever produced since the inception of the country, and I couldn't miss it (MLK50)".
On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech, some students in the USA are poring over his message and asking: What has really changed since?
Vincent was a high school junior in Boston when King was gunned down.
Strickland said Memphis sanitation workers' conditions have improved greatly since 1968.
"This is a very special day", he said. Black Lives Matter activists are calling for a national "day of action" to protest the death of Stephon Clark and other unarmed black people who were fatally shot by police. Organizers also are planning a large June 23 rally in Washington - similar to what King had envisioned.
King had envisioned the Poor People's Campaign in Washington as a way to speak out against economic injustice, as he shifted his focus from civil rights to human rights.
The Latest on commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.