April 4th Commemoration | National Civil Rights Museum
Remebering MLK Banner

Remembering MLK Banner

Remembering MLK:

The Man. The Movement. The Moment.

MONday, April 4, 2022 | 4:30pm Central | 4:00pm Musical prelude

Special Presentation starting April 10 at 3:00pm Central


The National Civil Rights Museum presents a hybrid commemoration in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy on the 54th anniversary of his death.  Guests are welcome to join us in paying tribute to Dr. King in the museum courtyard or via live stream. 

Each year, the Museum commemorates the tragic event that occurred on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968. This year’s event features a keynote speaker, special performances, fraternal tributes, and the changing of the balcony wreath with a moment of silence at 6:01 pm Central when Dr. King was slain. A musical prelude begins at 4:00 pm Central.

Dr. Leslie D. Callahan of St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA is the keynote speaker.  The W. Crimm Singers (aka The Wakanda Chorale) and a performance by Iris Orchestra’s Artist Fellows and Memphis Symphony Orchestra & University of Memphis Fellows are rendered as a tribute to Dr. King. 

Keynote speaker Dr. Leslie D. Callahan, the Dean of the historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, and the executive officer for religious affairs at Howard University. Her remarks explore King's life and his legacy of altruism.  Under her leadership, the Chapel impacts students through initiatives including Alternative Spring Break (ASB), HU Day of Service, the Interfaith Advisory Board, Justice for Juveniles Prison Ministry, and the University’s first Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School. She has set an example in affirming religious diversity and freedom both on campus and throughout the community.

The Reverend Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr., founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, is one of America’s foremost civil rights, religious and political figures. Over the past forty years, he has played a pivotal role in virtually every movement for empowerment, peace, civil rights, gender equality, and economic and social justice. On August 9, 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Reverend Jackson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Reverend Jackson began his activism as a student in the summer of 1960 seeking to desegregate the local public library in Greenville and then as a leader in the sit-in movement. In 1965, he became a full-time organizer for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He was soon appointed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to direct the Operation Breadbasket program. In December of 1971, Reverend Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) in Chicago, IL. The goals of Operation PUSH were economic empowerment and expanding educational, business, and employment opportunities for the disadvantaged and people of color.

Reverend Jackson has been called the "Conscience of the Nation" and "the Great Unifier," challenging America to be inclusive and to establish just and humane priorities for the benefit of all. He is known for bringing people together on common ground across lines of race, culture, class, gender, and belief.

Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, has devoted more than 40 years to the pursuit of equal justice, the promotion and protection of basic rights, and the preservation of the rule of law. She works on a range of issues, including child labor, women’s rights, disappearances, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, freedom of expression, ethnic violence, criminal justice reform, immigration, impunity, and environmental justice. 

Kennedy served as Chair of the Amnesty International USA Leadership Council for over a decade. She serves on the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace, Human Rights First, Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, Laureate and Leaders, Nizami Ganjavi International Center, HealthEVillages, as well as RFK Human Rights’ numerous international chapters. She is on the Advisory Committee for the Association of American Indian Affairs, the Albert Schweitzer Institute, Sankofa, San Patrignano, and the Center for Victims of Torture.  She has received high honors from President Lech Walesa of Poland for aiding the Solidarity movement, The Humanitarian Award from the Congress of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, and many other honors.

W. Crimm Singers AKA Wakanda Chorale is a professional ensemble-in-residence of Tennessee State University’s Big Blue Opera Initiatives wholly embraces the music of the Black experience throughout the diaspora and every genre connected to it with major emphasis on the Negro Spiritual, African American operatic, and concert repertoire, hymnody, and anthems.

Musical performances by Iris Orchestra’s Artist Fellows and Memphis Symphony Orchestra/University of Memphis Fellows, two prestigious programs dedicated to emerging musicians from African American and Latinx communities, which are historically underrepresented populations in classical music, will also render tribute to Dr. King.

As with tradition, audio recordings of the civil rights leader’s speeches will play in the courtyard throughout the day. The museum is open during regular hours 9 am – 5 pm on April 4th.  The event culminates with the tolling of bells and a moment of silence at 6:01 pm, the time Dr. King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. 

The April 4th Commemoration is an annual museum event remembering Dr. King.  He prophetically expressed his peace with death in his final "The Mountaintop" speech on April 3, 1968 at Mason Temple in Memphis, TN.






See the Timeline: King's Last Seven Days 


Watch the MLK POV video Series on YouTube



  • Due to rain, the commemoration event is moved inside in 2019.
  • Museum educator Dory Lerner conducts activities for children and families.
  • Families make peaceful protest signs during commemoration activities.
  • HBCU LeMoyne Owen College Choir performs.
  • Dr. Omid Safi of Duke University is keynote speaker.
  • Civil rights icon Rev James Lawson gives remarks.
  • Civil rights icon Rev Jesse Jackson gives remarks.
  • A salute to striking Memphis Sanitation Workers of 1968.
  • People pay homage to Dr. King on the anniversary of his death in 2017.
  • Community litany recited in reverence to Dr. King.
  • The Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. pay a special tribute to Dr. King who was an Alpha.
  • Rev. William Barber gives fiery remarks.
  • Audience includes members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. as national president Gwen Boyd give keynote
  • The audience participates in the community litany.
  • Gwen Boyd and Museum President hangs the ceremonial wreath on the balcony of Room 306 where Dr. King last stood.
  • Woman donned a T-shirt with words of compassion.


  • Rev. Michael Pflegler gives keynote.
  • Rev. Al Green sings the finale while civil rights icons Rev. Jesse Jackson and Congressman John Lewis join hands in unity.
  • Poet Ed Mabrey delivers a special tribute to Dr. King.
  • Museum President Terri Lee Freeman sets the tone of the special occasion.
  • 105 Voices of History, HBCU National Concert Choir
  • Civil rights Icons Revs. Ed King and Bernard Lafayette (in hats).
  • Civil rights icon John Trumpaeur Mulholland
  • Celebrity actors Glenn Turman (L) and Chris Tucker (R) with guests attend the commemoration.
  • A bell toll around the world at 6:01pm, the time King was shot.
  • Thousands gather to hear Dr. King
  • The audience is engaged by the empowering words of the speakers and performers.
  • 15,000 people from around the world paid tribute to Dr. King on the 50th anniversary of his death.
Enable Recite