Faith groups rally against racism on anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s death

Hundreds of marchers attended a rally against racism in Washington on Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The ACT to End Racism event had support from a wide range of religious believers ― Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Orthodox Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Reform Jews, Sikhs and others. It was coordinated by the National Council of Churches, a network of 38 religious denominations that include some of the nation’s largest mainline Protestant and historically black Protestant churches. 

“Racism isn’t sad, racism is sin,” said Rev. Julian DeShazier, a hip-hop artist known as J.Kwest and pastor from Chicago who served as a host at the rally.

DeShazier told attendees that Wednesday’s march was a starting point and that the dismantling of systemic racism is something religious people must fight for every day. 

17 PHOTOS
Marches and rallies mark 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination
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Marches and rallies mark 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination
People march in an I AM 2018 March and Rally during events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the death of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht
Christian hip hop artist and rapper Julian ? J.Kwest ? DeShazier speaks to anti-racism marchers from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism as they rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination on the National Mall in Washington, U.S. April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Anti-racism marchers from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and ACT (Awaken, Confront, Transform) to End Racism reach out to touch the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as they engage in a silent march and rally to mark the 50th anniversary of the slain civil rights leader's assassination in Washington, U.S. April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
People attend a silent march and rally on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Sandra Coles-Bell worships to music with others during "End Racism Rally" held by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S. and Awaken, Confront, Transform (ACT) on the National Mall on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, U.S. April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: Members of Definition of Percussion Entertainment (D.O.P.E.) lead marchers from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Actor Danny Glover gives a speech as Terry Provance holds his notes during the "End Racism Rally" held by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA and Awaken, Confront, Transform (ACT) on the National Mall on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, U.S. April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson speaks in front of the U.S. Capitol during the "End Racism Rally" on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall in Washington, U.S., April 4, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
People commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., hold a prayer rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC, April 4, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - People wait to march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: Marchers gather at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for a silent walk to a prayer service on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: The Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune addresses faith leaders as they prepare for a silent march from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: The sun rises at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. A prayer march organized by A.C.T. To End Racism brought together religious leaders and others to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: Marchers silently walk from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: Marchers gather at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial for a silent walk to a prayer service on the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 04: (L-R) Regina Simpson, Rev. Dionne Boissiere and Rev. Dawn Sanders gather with other faith leaders for a silent march from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the National Mall to mark the 50th anniversary of King's assassination April 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Organized by A.C.T. To End Racism, religious leaders and others gathered to memorialize the day that Nobel Peace Prize and American civil rights leader King was killed while supporting a sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
People arrive to march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 2018 in Memphis, Tennessee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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“The work has been done before us, but now finishing the work begins with us,  in our hearts, in our minds, in our spirits,” DeShazier said. “It requires an awareness, an alertness, to wake up, to stay woke, to pray woke and to work woke.”

The rally began early Wednesday morning with a mile-long silent prayer walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the National Mall, where the marchers attended an interfaith service. That was followed by speeches and performances.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, a Baptist minister who helped organize the rally, told HuffPost that she was inspired and encouraged by the turnout.

“People came from across the country to be here and to recommit to do the hard work to end racism,” Copeland-Tune said. “There was a lot of energy and excitement for what comes next.”

51 PHOTOS
Martin Luther King Jr. through the years
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Martin Luther King Jr. through the years
circa 1953: Headshot of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968), American civil rights leader and pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, wearing his vestments. (Photo by Michael Evans/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
Former Senator Lehman presents 'Americans for Democratic Action' scroll to Reverend Martin Luther King at the Astor Hotel. February 03, 1961. (Photo by William N. Jacobellis/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
Dr Martin Luther King Jr, the civil rights campaigner and famous orator, portrait of a young man, in a black suit and tie with his head tilted., 1955. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Reverend Ralph Abernathy are shown 'integrating' one of the first buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. This scene is from the striking three-hour feature film, King: A Filmed Record. . .Montgomery to Memphis, to be presented for the first time on television on WPIX TV, Channel 11, Tuesday, April 4, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., in observance of the fourth anniversary of the death of Dr. King. 1955.
American civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) speaks as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, March 20, 1956. (Photo by George Tames/New York Times Co./Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - MAY 1956: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - MAY 1956: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his family in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - MAY 1956: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his family in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
MONTGOMERY, AL - MAY 13: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks with people after delivering a sermon on May 13, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King speaking from pulpit at mass meeting about principles of non-violence before leading assembly to ride newly integrated busses after successful boycott. (Photo by Don Cravens/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. standing at the Lincoln Memorial with police officers and posing to a photographer during 'Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom' in Washington, D.C. in 1957. (Photo By Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
A rear view of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1957. (Photo By Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. addressing the crowd during 'Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom' at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1957. (Photo By Paul Schutzer/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (C) talking to an unidentified man. (Photo by Grey Villet/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 9/30/1958-New York, NY: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., poses with his mother (Left) and his wife at Harlem Hospital here Sept. 30th during his first newsconference since being stabbed by Mrs. Izola Curry on Sept. 20th. King said he had no ill will towards Mrs. Curry. He added that he knows thoughtful people will do all in their power to see that she gets the help she apparently needs if it becomes a free and constructive member of Society.
American Civil Rights and religious leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968) holds his infant daughter, Yolanda King (1955 - 2007), in his arms, 1956. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
American Civil Rights and religious leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968) bends down as he speaks with a group of schoolgirls in a classroom, January 1960. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM BENEFIT SHOW: Martin Luther King Jr., left, and an unidentified man address the crowd during the Salute to Freedom concert. (Photo By Grey Villet/The LIFE Premium Collection/Getty Images)
Martin Luther King, Jr., Close-Up During Speech, circa 1960's. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
On the campus of Atlanta University (later renamed Clark Atlanta University) to discuss 'sit-in' protests, American religious and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr (1929 � 1968) (fore) sits with his hands on his knee, as future politician (and Washington DC mayor) Marion Barry stands behind him, Atlanta, Georgia, mid-May, 1960. (Photo by Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Civil Rights ldr. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holding his son Martin III as his daughter Bernice and wife Coretta greet him at the airport upon his release from Georgia State prison after incarceration for leading boycotts. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is freed from jail under a $2000 appeal bond, he is greeted by his wife Coretta and children, Marty and Yoki, at the airport in Chamblee, Georgia.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (3R) participating in planning session for Freedom Riders' bus trip from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Lee Lockwood/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Freedom Riders' leaders Reverend Metz Rollins and Martin Luther King Jr. sitting on a church bench with an unidentified person during the Freedom Rider crisis in May of 1961.
Rev. Martin Luther king (L), and attorneys Mrs. Constance Motley and William Kunstler enter their car here 7/25 after a federal judge issued a stay of another jurist's injunction against integration demonstrations at Albany, Ga. King, leader of racial demonstrations over the South, said he would return to Albany immediately.
(Original Caption) 4/12/1963-Birmingham, AL: A police officer grabs Southern integration leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., by the seat of his trousers in jailing him for leading an anti-segregation march.
American Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) (center, pointig with right hand) leads a march to a rally against racial discrimination at Coho Hall, Detroit, Michigan, June 23, 1963. Among those with him are Reverend Clarence Franklin (1915 - 1984) (third from left, holding King's right arm) and Detroit mayor Jerome Cavanagh (1928 ? 1979) (second right). (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech to huge crowd gathered for the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (aka the Freedom March). (Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Overhead view of the massive crowd assembled on the Mall in front of the Reflecting Pool and between the Lincoln and Washington monuments during the civil rights March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington DC, August 28, 1963. It was at this rally that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech. (Photo by Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
View of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968, center) at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where he would deliver his 'I Have a Dream' speech, Washington DC, 28th August 1963. (Photo by Rowland Scherman/Getty Images)
View of some of the leaders of March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom as they prepare to march, Washington DC, August 28, 1963. Among those pictured are, front row from third left, John Lewis (holding manila fodler), Matthew Ahman,Floyd B. McKissick (1922 - 1991), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968), Reverend Eugene Carson Blake (1906 - 1985), Cleveland Robinson (1914 - 1995), Joachim Prinz (hidden), unidentified (hidden), Whitney Young (1921 - 1971), Roy Wilkins (1901 - 1981), Walter Reuther (1907 - 1970), and A. Philip Randolph (1889 - 1979). The march provided the setting for Dr. King's iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech. (Photo by Robert W. Kelley/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) three-quarter-length portrait, standing, face front, at a press conference. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
12th August 1964: American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968) waves with his children, Yolanda and Martin Luther III, from the 'Magic Skyway' ride at the Worlds Fair, New York City. The ride was a replica of a Ford convertible. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Lyndon B Johnson (1908 - 1973) discusses the Voting Rights Act with civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 - 1968). The act, part of President Johnson's 'Great Society' program trebled the number of black voters in the south, who had previously been hindered by racially inspired laws, 1965. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holds a picture of three missing civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman (l to r) during a press conference. The bodies of the three men were later found near Philadelphia, Mississippi and the
LOS ANGELES -1965: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sits at a table during The Nation Institute California Conference circa 1965 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1964 Nobel peace Prize winner and leader of the American Negro civil rights movement for more than a decade, addresses an integrated audience during a testimonial dinner in his honor here 1/27. The dinner was held in one of the city's largest downtown hotels.
American religious and Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr (1929 - 1968) watches US President Lyndon Johnson on television, Selma, Alabama, March 1965. (Photo by Frank Dandridge/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
'(from left to right) Harry Belafonte, Chairman Reverend Martin Luther King and Sammy Davis, Jr., Co-Chairmen for the Broadway Answers Selma benefit at the Majestic Theater. April 06, 1965. (Photo by Jerry Engel/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)'
FRANCE - OCTOBER 24: Portrait of the American Baptist Martin LUTHER KING Jr. on a trip to Paris. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1964 for his peaceful action to obtain civil rights for African Americans in the USA. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Martin Luther King, Jr. meets with President Eisenhower at the White House. (Photo by � CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Civil Rights leaders walk arm in arm at a march in Canton, Mississippi. CORE leader Floyd McKissick (c) and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC (r) support the Black Power movement while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (l) stresses non-violent racial integration.
Martin Luther King, Jr., wearing a hat and sunglasses calls out 'All right, all right, we're gonna march, we're gonna march straight south' as he leads marchers across the Coldwater River Bridge in Coldwater, Mississippi. Dr. King resumed James Meredith' | Location: Coldwater, Mississippi, USA.
WASHINGTON - APRIL 16: FACE THE NATION featuring Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Image dated: April 16, 1967. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
A portrait of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), circa 1968. (Photo by RDA/Getty Images)
American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968), watched by Dr. Charles Bousenquet, signs the Degree Roll At Newcastle University after receiving an honorary Doctor of Civil Law degree, Newcastle, England, November 14, 1967. (Photo by /Getty Images)
Dr. Martin Luther King press conference held at Sardi's West. June 20, 1967. (Photo by Vic DeLucia/New York Post Archives /(c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Washington, DC: Close up of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the phone after delivering a sermon at the Washington Episcopal Cathedral. King predicted a 'right wing takeover and a fascist state' will develop in America by 1980, if Congress does not do more for the poor.
Members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference sit in the room of assassinated Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at the Lorriane Motel (#306) shortly after King's death, Memphis, Tennessee April 4, 1968. Among those present are Andrew Young (at left near lamp, with hand on chin) and Ralph Abernathy (1926 � 1990) (center rear, with round tie pin). (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
After the assassination of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr outside the door of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, a group of men stand in front of the room window on the motel's balcony, Memphis, Tennessee, April 4, 1968. Theatrice Bailey (1910 - 1982), brother of the motel's owner, stands at the right. (Photo by Henry Groskinsky/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 4/9/1968-Atlanta, GA: Mule-drawn caisson carrying the casket of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is followed by dignitaries and aids as it moves towards the campus of Morehead College for a memorial service.
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In the months before his death, King had started to focus his activism around economic inequality and poverty in the U.S. He traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1968 to support African-American sanitation workers who felt they were poorly treated.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The civil rights leader was 39 years old. 

Watch a video of some speeches from the ACT to End Racism rally below.

Rev. Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical activist, told Wednesday’s crowd that racism is America’s “original sin.” He said that white Christians need to acknowledge that sin and take action against systemic racism ― by, for example, fighting voter suppression.

“Without confession to the sin of white racism, white supremacy, white privilege, people who call themselves white Christians will never be free,” Wallis said.

“If you believe in the image of God, you will make sure there is not one vote suppressed in this next election,” he added. 

Organizers of the ACT to End Racism rally expect about 350 people to stay in Washington for political activism training on Thursday. Religious leaders and lay activists will be taught how to lobby their members of Congress. Participants will receive information about current legislative proposals on issues like mass incarceration, education, voting rights, health care, and immigration.

Copeland-Tune said she hopes that participants leave the anniversary rally with a deeper commitment to racial justice.

“We hope those who attended have deepened their commitment to end racism and feel energized, inspired and rejuvenated to do the hard work that lies ahead,” she said. “We hope they now believe that we have to do our part and finish the work to end racism within ourselves, our institutions, our communities and in our nation.”

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Memphis 50 years after Martin Luther King's death
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Memphis 50 years after Martin Luther King's death
A statue of Rosa Parks sits at the front of a bus in the National Civil Rights Museum, on the site of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People visit the reconstructed hotel room where Martin Luther King stayed before he was shot and killed at the in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 25, 2018. Picture taken March 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A mural heralds the Soulsville neighbourhood, home to the legendary Stax recording studio, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A street sign marks Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Archie Hurt, who regards Martin Luther King Jr. as a prophet, stands in front of his house in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. Hurt, has been painting parts of Biblical scripture interspersed with his thoughts on religion, politics and current events on the front of his house for ten years and twenty years before that when it was his brother's house. His hat reads "Cry to the Lord". REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The U.S. flag decorates a building in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Activist Sweet Willie Wine looks through papers near his framed "Memphis Invaders" (a black power group) jacket in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. After spending time in prison as a young man, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. inspired Wine to dedicate his life to the Civil Rights movement. He was three blocks away from the Lorraine Motel when King was killed on April 4, 1968. "On Friday, April the 5th, his body was at Lewis' Funeral Home. Something said to me, "Get up and go down to Lewis's Funeral Home," said Wine. "I went in and over him I said, 'Dr. King, I'm gonna make them pay.' That's when I made my commitment. That was fifty years ago, and I've not turned around since." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
The base of a statue to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the Ku Klux Klan, stands in a park in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 27, 2018. In December 2017 activists forced a removal of the statue from his gravesite. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Tami Sawyer, a Black Lives Matter organiser, who is running for election to sit on city council, meets potential voters at a bar room event called Nerdnite where she talks about her experience removing a statue of KKK founder Nathan Bedford Forrest (pictured), in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Knowledge Quest community program founder Marlon Foster (L) gives a tour to visitors from Tennessee agriculture agencies of Knowledge Quest's community microfarm on razed home lots in the Soulsville neighbourhood in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A car drives by the house, slated to be moved to a new location, where singer Aretha Franklin was born in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Sanitation workers collect refuse from a truck decorated with images honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot and killed in Memphis in 1968 while championing their cause as workers, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A stained glass portrait of Bishop W.F. Ball, which hearkens back to the historic roots of Clayborn Temple, hangs in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 25, 2018. The church is the building where the striking workers met 50 years ago at the time of Martin Luther King Jr. assassination. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Sanitation worker Walter Coleman works a route on a truck decorated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 28, 2018. King Jr. was shot and killed while rallying with striking sanitation workers in 1968. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People visit the reconstructed hotel room where Martin Luther King Jr. stayed before he was shot and killed in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Side dishes including (clockwise from top right) cabbage, sweet potatoes, collard greens, rice, beans and macaroni-and-cheese are ready to be served at Ms. Girlee's Soul Food Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. The restaurant is owned by Henry Leach and his family.�Leach, who participated in the strike 50 years ago, said Martin Luther King came to the city for justice, not violence. "He came to help us get what we wanted. Like I tell you, he became like a father to us,"�the former sanitation worker said recently. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Shahidah Jones (L) and Rev. Earle Fisher, Black Lives Matter organisers, light themselves using a phone, as they pose for a photo near the De Soto Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 28, 2018. One thousand Black Lives Matter activists occupied and shut down the De Soto Bridge for four hours in a July 2016 protest. Rev. Earle Fisher: "I didn't have anything to do with (the protest) in terms of starting it but I was definitely there in solidarity with the people." Shahidah Jones: "The vibe of the protest had, then, started to change. It had started out with positive energy, but now you could feel this aggression growing." Helping to resolve the stalemate Fisher got the police to agree to a meeting on community policing and led the protesters off the bridge. Jones: "We get asked a lot as organisers, what does MLK 50 mean to you? It doesn't mean anything different for us than April 5th. Our job is still the same." REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A stairway leads to an empty lot where a house used to stand in the Soulsville, where some members of the neighborhood struggle with poverty issues 50 years after Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968 while taking up the cause of striking sanitation workers, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Customers watch, as their orders are prepared, at Ms. Girlee's Soul Food Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 29, 2018. The restaurant is owned by Henry Leach and his family.�Leach, who participated in the strike 50 years ago, said King came to the city for justice, not violence. "He came to help us get what we wanted. Like I tell you, he became like a father to us," the former sanitation worker said recently. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
People visit the reconstructed hotel room where Martin Luther King Jr. was staying before he was shot and killed at the in 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A cotton-themed mural decorates a building in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Actor Larry Bates plays Martin Luther King Jr. as he rehearses a scene from the play "The Mountaintop", part of events marking the 50th anniversary of King's murder at the Halloran Centre, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A marker on a street corner in the Soulsville neighbourhood marks the spot of the People's Grocery lynching of African-American proprietors Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart in 1892, which spurred Ida B. Wells in her crusade against lynching, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 26, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH "MLK ERNST" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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