Our nation was forever changed on April 4, 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, just one day after he gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech that moved the hearts and souls of all those at the Mason Temple Church and beyond. Now, 50 years later, the eyes of an entire nation will turn to reflect on and honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and strive to inspire mankind to realize Dr. King’s dream of freedom and equality for all.
April 1 – 30, 2018: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Reflection Installation – Memphis, Tennessee
On the corner of MLK Blvd. and Second Street in Memphis, the Reflection Site is a walkable outdoor gallery of sorts that will serve as a point of reference in understanding why Dr. King was in Memphis and how his presence affected the city, its people and the movement.
April 2 – 3, 2018: MLK50: Where Do We Go From Here? Symposium – Memphis, Tennessee
The two-day MLK50 Symposium will convene scholars, historians and thought leaders from across the country to present on the state of civil and human rights issues and racial and economic equity 50 years after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 3, 2018: We As A People: Honoring Service in Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Atlanta, Georgia
Since January 15, WABE’s midday show “Closer Look with Rose Scott” has examined the life, legacy and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years after his death. This four-month-long series has featured conversations, profiles and behind-the-scenes recollections of the Civil Rights Movement. The series comes to a close with this event on the eve of the date of Dr. King’s assassination. Taking place at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the event will spotlight individuals and organizations who are preserving Dr. King’s mission and continuing the tenets of his dream.
April 3, 2018: MLK50 Dinner & Dialogue at Art Village Gallery – Memphis, Tennessee
Following the opening of its tribute art exhibition titled “Beyond the Balcony,” Art Village Gallery welcomes guests to break bread with a diverse group of attendees over a seated, four-course dinner with wine, while you listening and contributing to a meaningful, curated and facilitated discussion that aims to answer the question of Memphis’s city-wide MLK50 theme – Where Do We Go From Here?
April 3 – 4, 2018: MLK50: Gospel Reflections from the Mountaintop – Memphis, Tennessee
Join the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and The Gospel Coalition at a special event, filled with panel discussions, breakout sessions and keynote talks. Key speakers include Matt Chandler, Jackie Hill Perry, Eric Mason, Russell Moore, John Piper, Benjamin Watson and many others.
April 4, 2018: One Voice: A Black History Narrative – Mauldin, South Carolina
This show is a journey through the African American experience by virtue of seven powerful voices. Jeremiah Dew portrays five of the characters spanning from the 1820s through present day. Characters include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass and Barack Obama. Although many know of the impact these figures have had in American history, few have seen their works performed up close and personal.
April 4, 2018: I Am a Man Film Screening – Atlanta, Georgia
Shown at the IBEW Auditorium, the film chronicles the Memphis sanitation strike that began in February 1968 with a focus on human rights. The film discussants will share insights on religion and labor.
April 4, 2018: Keeper of the Dream Awards Banquet – Birmingham, Alabama
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference hosts an annual banquet for their founding president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who worked tirelessly to advance human and civil rights. This year’s Keeper of the Dream Awards Banquet is to honor individuals who have continued the legacy of the organization’s founding president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 4, 2018: 6:01 Commemorative Ceremony from the Balcony of the Lorraine Motel – Memphis, Tennessee
The 6:01 Commemorative Ceremony from the Balcony of the Lorraine Motel is a daylong of ecumenical presentations, national and international dignitaries, ceremonial wreath laying, tributes and performances culminating in a symbolic moment of silence at 6:01 p.m. — the time Dr. King was shot while on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
April 4, 2018: Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Prize Ceremony & Luncheon – Atlanta, Georgia
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change will award its highest honor, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize. This year they honor two distinguished gentlemen: Mr. Benjamin Ferencz, Esq. for his courageous work as a prosecutor for the Nuremberg, Germany Nazi Leadership trials and Mr. Bryan Stevenson, Esq. for his fearless advocacy work in the legal field and his win for the historic ruling making mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger unconstitutional.
April 4, 2018: An Evening of Storytelling at Crosstown Concourse – Memphis, Tennessee
This event will bring living icons of the early civil rights movement and emerging social justice leaders together for an intimate look at the American Civil Rights Movement from its past foundations of the 1950s and 1960s to the mobilizations and grassroots organizing happening now.
April 4, 2018: Unity Service at New Life Church – Louisville, Kentucky
New Life Church commemorates the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death by celebrating his dream of racial equality with a unity service with Christ Temple Christian Life Center and many other churches from Louisville.
April 5 – 6, 2018: Beloved Community Talks Symposium: Together We Win…Facing Racism, Poverty and Militarism – Atlanta, Georgia
The King Center in partnership with The Carter Center, Volunteers of America and The Center for Civil and Human Rights present this special event. The power-packed symposium will be an opportunity to be in conversation with other leaders who are working to bridge the divide in the United States as it relates to racism, poverty and militarism.
April 6 – 8, 2018: Union: A New Musical – Memphis, Tennessee
Union: A New Musical is a musical that inspires audiences with the powerful story of the Sanitation Workers’ Strike and continues their journey toward social justice. Clayborn Temple presents three preview performances and a community conversation that brings together community members, activists, artists, influencers and civic leaders to discuss the ongoing work of democracy in our city and in our nation.
April 7, 2018: King Centennials Speak – Atlanta, Georgia
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in partnership with Delta Airlines celebrates ordinary centennials from around the world doing extraordinary things. The event, hosted by Yolanda Renee King, the only granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a live talk show moderated by actor Hudson Yang of “Fresh Off the Boat” promises to be an exciting opportunity for learning and inspiration.
April 9, 2018: March for Humanity – Atlanta, Georgia
The King Center will lead the community in a march, starting in front of The Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and ending at Morehouse College. Following the march, there will be a Love for Humanity program and an “inspirtainment” event.
April 14, 2018: Reviving the Dream: Commemorating the Legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Charlotte, North Carolina
This gathering will feature courageous conversations, dynamic worship and inspiration from written and spoken word award recipients. The program will conclude with a symbolic march to a community fellowship gathering at the First Ward Recreation Center for food, music and fun for the whole family.
April 14, 2018: Voices from the Front Lines – Nashville, Tennessee
Hear the stories behind the photographs of the “We Shall Overcome: Civil Rights and the Nashville Press, 1957–1968” exhibit and take a deeper look at the civil rights movement. Moderated by historian Linda Wynn, this panel discussion will feature first-person accounts by individuals who fought for racial equity in Nashville.
April 19, 2018: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – Nashville, Tennessee
Ms. Linda Wynn, assistant director at the Tennessee Historical Commission and a prominent scholar on Civil Rights history, will present the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The presentation will reflect on Dr. King’s accomplishments and the impact he has made on society.
April 26, 2018: Concert: Songs of Freedom – Nashville, Tennessee
This program is a celebratory evening of music, featuring performances by the Fairfield Four and other Nashville musicians, and is presented in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music.
June 2, 2018: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50th Year Commemorative Tribute – Augusta, Georgia
R & R Youth and Community Empowerment Organization and community partners will commemorate the great life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by presenting a series of tributes across America. This powerful tribute will feature a stage drama entitled “Trashing the King,” written by Birmingham Playwright Dr. George W. Stewart. Additional features of this memorable tribute will entail the awarding of the “Dream Keepers Award” to 100 extraordinary individuals.
Through August 19, 2018: Black Resistance: Ernest C. Withers and the Civil Rights Movement at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art – Memphis, Tennessee
This exhibition focuses on and commemorates the 50th anniversary of the events from March 27 through April 8, 1968. A wall of sanitation workers carrying “I AM A MAN” placards and police in riot gear on March 28, 1968; Dr. King returning to Memphis on April 3, 1968; giving his historic “Mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple; and the memorial march to City Hall on April 8, 1968, are among these evocative, iconic images.
Until October 14, 2018: We Shall Overcome: Civil Rights and the Nashville Press, 1957–1968 – Nashville, Tennessee
“We Shall Overcome: Civil Rights and the Nashville Press, 1957–1968” is a photography exhibition of lunch counter sit-ins led by students from local historically black colleges and universities that took place in early 1960s, among other charged events of the time. The photographs are sourced from the archives of Nashville’s two daily newspapers. Some were selected to be published, but many were not.
Ongoing: Dine at Woolworth on 5th – Nashville, Tennessee
Restored to its original design, the first integrated lunch counter at Woolworth’s was the site of several Civil Rights sit-ins to protest segregation during the 1960s. The diner has reopened to honor the history of the space.
Ongoing: Visit the Witness Walls – Nashville, Tennessee
Witness Walls, located beside the Davidson County Courthouse, is inspired by the events and the people who fought for racial equality in Nashville. The interactive public art piece aims to continue the conversation about social justice and equity in our community.
Ongoing: Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail – Birmingham, Alabama
This trail will carry you through more than 70 sites of national merit designated by the National Register of Historic Places throughout the downtown Civil Rights District and beyond. You will see, read about and more deeply understand the unforgettable role that Birmingham played in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, in the once segregated South and on the streets where the protests actually occurred.
Ongoing: Civil Rights Tour – Nashville, Tennessee
This walking and driving tour provides the locations and history of places that played a key role in Nashville’s Civil Rights Movement. These places included churches, schools, universities, commercial buildings, recreational facilities and other types of properties. The identification of these places provides a direct physical connection to the past and helps people understand how local civil rights activists worked to promote a free and just society in Nashville.
Experience one of these moving events to not only honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy, but also to do the more important work of spreading awareness and learning how you can make a change in your own life and community.
Check out our SB Travel section for more ideas on travel in the South and beyond.