BALTIMORE (WJZ) — People in Maryland and across the nation remembered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Wednesday.
It’s been 50 years since Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, after inspiring tens of millions with his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement.
King was just 39 years old when an assassin’s bullet ended his life.
Crowds returned to the motel where King’s life ended, which is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum.
“It’s sort of like going to Mecca. That’s the experience I have,” visitor Marjorie Kinard said. “Coming to Mecca where people from all over the country are here.”
A choir from the New St. Mark Baptist Church in Baltimore embarked to Memphis to partake in the observances honoring Dr. King.
In Baltimore, a program at the Real News Network focused on Dr. King’s call for peaceful protests and an end to the Vietnam War.
“And for King, King knew that he was not the movement, he was part of the movement,” said actor and activist Danny Glover who spoke at the event.
Across town at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, organizers asked the question, “Where were you when Dr. King was shot?”
“The emotion was high because again, i’m asking people to relieve the story of what took place 50 years ago,” organizer Dr. Lamarr Shields say.
In Washington D.C., in the shadows of the monumental Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, tourists showed reverence to the reverend.
“We’re from Atlanta, we live in Atlanta and the trip wouldn’t be complete without paying our respects to a great man,” Myron Griffin said.
A longtime Baltimore pastor met Dr. King in seminary school, and called him dynamic even then.
WJZ’s Jonathan McCall spoke with pastor Marcus Garvey Wood about his memories of Dr. King.
For nearly a century, pastor Wood has had a front row seat to history.
Every picture in his room tells the story of a life well-lived, including one that features MLK.
“He had a voice that could move people,” Wood said of Dr. King.
Not only did it move people, but it also sparked a movement.
“They felt that he had been sent from God to bear the message to the world,” Wood added.
Even in seminary school, Wood said he knew King had a gift that could bring people together.
“He could get up without any manuscript and speak whatever he wants to speak, and people would say amen, amen,” he explained.
Fifty years after his murder, Dr. King’s legacy continues to impact generations.
“I feel like a lot of the issues that Dr. King was working for are still persistent and need attention, and we need to continue to bring conversation to them,” said Loyola University Maryland student Lily Gertz.
At Loyola University Maryland, Dr. King’s words spread across the campus as part of teach-in. Lily Gertz is one of the students who received a first-hand lesson.
“I’m part of what Dr. King did,” she said. “And it’s like we’re still walking beside him.”
“He said we have to fight to make this country better,” said Loyola University Maryland professor Kaye Wise. “He said we have to use our voice and lift it up.”
Wood says he remembers the moment he heard the news of King’s death.
“He’s gone, the king is dead. King is dead. He’s gone,” Wood said.
It’s a moment that still haunts him.
“It’s not so much the body that is deteriorating, but the whole mind is gone,” Wood said. “That’s what happens when a great man dies.”
And a nation, 50 years later. At dusk, bells tolled for a man who is gone, but clearly not forgotten.