The Latest: Rousing words, song commemorate final MLK speech

The Latest on commemorations of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s (all times local):

8:10 p.m.

A commemoration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s final speech has begun with rousing remarks and music.

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," and the gathering Tuesday night took on the air of a revival. The event was in the same sanctuary where King gave the famed "Mountaintop" speech the night before he was killed 50 years ago.

The crowd Tuesday night heard videotaped remarks by former President Barack Obama, who said King would want people to keep trying to achieve his goals.

National labor leader Lee Saunders was among the first speakers. He said the commemoration wasn't just about honoring the past, but also striving for a better future.


7:15 p.m.

Admirers of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. are gathering for a celebration of his final speech in Memphis.

King gave what's known as the mountaintop speech the night before he died 50 years ago.

An enthusiastic crowd Tuesday evening filled the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ, and the atmosphere was heavy with nostalgia. The air in the sanctuary was thick, and the forecast called for a storm to rattle the walls of the sanctuary — evoking the memory of the thunderous evening outside 50 years ago, outdone only by King's remarks when he finally did arrive that night.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike are seated in the front row. They were being treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them.

Contemporaries of King's including the Rev. Jesse Jackson were also in attendance.


3 p.m.

Civil rights leaders are reviving an economic justice campaign that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was planning when he was killed 50 years ago.

Organizers of the rekindled Poor People's Campaign discussed their plans Tuesday in Memphis, Tennessee, on the eve of the anniversary of King's death. King had been planning a march by the same name in Washington when he was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968.

Forty days of marches, sit-ins and other peaceful protests will kick off next month and extend into about 30 states. The events will culminate with a massive Washington rally in June by clergy, students, union members and other activists.

Planning for the effort began last December with the Revs. William Barber of North Carolina and Liz Theoharis of New York.